One of the loveliest of the accounts of an original vision collected by Edward Robinson is this: The description is of a child – a girl between the ages of 4 and 5 walking with her mother on an area called ‘the moors’ in Berkshire where the very tallest of the harebells appeared about the mist:
‘Suddenly I seemed to see the mist as a shimmering gossamer tissue and the harebells appearing here and there, seemed to shine with a brilliant fire. Somehow, I understood that this was the living tissue of life itself, in which that which we call consciousness was embedded, appearing here and there as a shining focus of energy in the more diffused whole. In that moment I knew that I had my own special place, as had all other things, animate and so-called inanimate, and that we were all part of this universal tissue which was both fragile yet immensely strong and utterly good and beneficent. … The vision has never left me.’
She was left with what she describes as the foundation for her life and a reservoir of strength fed from an unseen force. She writes that she wouldn’t have used the same words to describe the experience then as she now does as an adult, but did know that at the age of five she had experientially understood the total meaning of what she saw – at 5 years old.
A boy now writing as a 63-year-old man had his first spiritual experience also at the age of 5:
‘The dew on the grass seemed to sparkle like iridescent jewels in the sunlight, and the shadow of the houses and trees seemed friendly and protective. In the heart of the child that I was there seemed to well up a deep and overwhelming sense of gratitude, se sense of unending peace and security which seemed to be part of the beauty of the morning, the love and protective and living presence which included all that I had ever loved and yet was something much more.’
Being present in nature – awake and alert as children are offers what Eckhart Tolle calls a portal into Presence. Into the ‘more than ourselves’ – but the impact lasted throughout life helping each to become the person he or she had it in them to become. Another contributor later reflects how he clearly didn’t have the language to formulate the experience but it did give him a truth and a fact – the existence of the Divine and that it was good – not to do with morals but rather to do with beauty and the sacred.
William Wordsworth both understood such original visions and also the loss of them:
We will grieve not;
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
Of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind,
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be.
The original vision goes but leaves behind an assurance ‘a guarantee of the truth of the numinous’.