I was with my father in the ICU the moment he died. When he did, something died in me, too. Although I had been a minister all my adult life and had counseled others in times of overwhelming sadness and grief, when it occurred in me, I was completely unprepared for it. The pain was incredible, so overwhelming in fact, it’s really hard to put into words. But here’s the remarkable part. For a brief moment, right in the middle of the most intense sadness and suffering I had ever known, I felt a peace come over me, as well as a presence with me. It lasted only a few minutes but, during those moments of peace, I felt the presence of someone with me, someone who purportedly lived thousands of years ago. His name is Enoch.
I realize how absurd this must sound, like something out of the Twilight Zone. And, I suppose, for that very reason, I said nothing about it for years. But, the presence was so unmistakable that I care no longer what others may think of me when they hear me talk about it. I must tell this story. Maya Angelou has this saying, “There’s no greater agony that bearing an untold story inside of you.” Well, I bore mine for many years. But, the day finally came when I decided I had to share it.
I first heard of Enoch – this ancient spiritual teacher out of Jewish folklore and mythology – when I was in seminary doing graduate work. I describe all of this in the book so it isn’t necessary to go into the details here. But, one of my professors, a Jewish scholar himself, spent an entire class period introducing us to Enoch.
Jewish historians remember Enoch in much the same way Easterners remember their spiritual avatars – as one of those rare human souls who attained a spiritual consciousness, or awareness, that seems to escape virtually everyone else. For example, Enoch is said to have “walked with God.” Although I cannot be certain of this, I suspect that must mean the same thing as “enlightenment” in Buddhism, what New Agers might describe as the “God-realized life,” or Christians would describe as a person who had experienced an “epiphany.”
I was fascinated by Enoch but, as life does to all of us, I soon laid aside my interest in him and moved on to more pressing matters. That is, until the day my father died. Not only did the story of Enoch come back to me, but I felt his presence in the ICU room with me. During that undeniable sensation, all of the pain and sadness I was feeling about my father dying of a stroke lifted. There, in the presence of death, was this beautiful feeling of stillness…a kind of OK-ness…of peace both in me and around me.
I knew right then and there that one day I would write about this experience. I did not know when that would be, or what I would say, or even why I would say it. I only knew I would someday tell the story. Ten years or so later, I did. I began writing and, within a span of twenty months, I had given birth to The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God.