This is a story I have shared with very few. Most people would simply not believe it, or in their obstinacy insist it was mere serendipity, not realizing that the odds of that are virtually impossible. Moreover most of those who might believe it are often biased towards their own dogmas and might interpret this story with negative connotation.
I am not by nature a religious person. I adhere to no dogmas. I do not pray. I do not feel there is some supernatural being external to my self that I need to commune with personally. However I am not a strict atheist. In my opinion militant atheists lack imagination and frankly think of existence in the smallest of terms. I can postulate several theorems which would give rise to that which most would consider divine. There is much more to reality than our primitive ape brains could even begin to fathom. How is it that existence exists, is not a small question, it is the very soul of reality.
I did tell this story once to a very dear friend who I was certain would receive it well. She was a Wiccan who owned a Wiccan book store. She had at that point little knowledge of the fact that in my youth, I was much invested in mysticism, practicing the esoteric side of martial arts and reading all manner of relevant books. Fortunately for my sanity, I had after a few years of it a couple of epiphanies that allowed me to not need that anymore. I recounted this one to her.
It was in my early twenties that I was very close friends with a group of Wiccans. I was not into that myself, but I respected their interest and was sometimes invited to join them for special occasions. We were close. One day they had organized a trip out of the city to overnight at a country place where they could be alone and do a ritual of some significance to them. It was a fine summer day, so when they invited me to join, I was happy to.
It was a long drive, we had ample opportunity to talk about all manner of things. I got to thinking that perhaps I might take the occasion to do something I felt the need for. I asked my friends whether or not the preparation of their bonfire was of ritual importance to them? It apparently was not, having a lit fire was, but not the preparation or the lighting. I asked if they would mind if I prepared and lit the fire, as a ritual of significance to me. They were fine with that.
I waxed somewhat poetic and at length about what this would mean for me. I was an ape, a tool using ape, slowly starting to crawl out of the muck of the animal mind, but I was far from the evolution the universe portends. I wanted to give back to the universe my thanks for my existence. I did not want to do it with ego, I wanted it to be as simple as anything early man might proffer. I wanted to sit beneath the stars, basking in an infinity of points of light, and I wanted to offer up a point of light of my own.
They were very accepting of this. We arrived close to dusk, so I set to my task immediately. I was one hundred percent focused on the task and on what it meant to me. I found a good spot for the fire, far from the surrounding forest, cleared the ground well around. I gathered a great deal of fallen dry wood, then arranged large rocks in a decent sized circle. I created a tipi of bountiful tinder, built up the tipi with small sticks, then larger ones, and finally the more substantial logs.
All was in readiness. My friends awaited my match so they could start their thing. I had no words to speak, my ritual was more primitive, and was largely done, except for it's consummation. I lit a match and put it to the tinder. The fire caught immediately and quickly swelled to a large and bright bonfire. I had given light to the universe. My task was done. I would now sit back and simply experience the moment, the stars above, my tiny spark glowing amidst them, my place in the universe.
My friends did their own thing, their own ritual, while I sat quietly. Then they too were done and we all sat together in silence. Many minutes passed. It was myself who broke the silence. I said, "You know, I have only two regrets in life." I was a city boy. "Never in my life have I seen a shooting star, and never have I seen a firefly."
My friends nodded sagely. They said nothing, but they understood where I was coming from. A few moments passed. Then one of them too broke the silence, "Look," he said pointing with exclamation. A shooting star! And then another, and another. Within seconds the entire sky from horizon to horizon was filled with shooting stars! Jaws hung agape.
Then another voice, "Look, the bushes!" Three hundred and sixty degrees around us, the bushes some distance away from us were all alive with literally thousands of dancing fireflies.
Years later after I had recounted this tale to my Wiccan store owner friend, she asked if I had ever tried to have that experience again. I smiled at her, perhaps a bit too patronizingly and said, "It wasn't an experience, it was a message, and I got it the first time."
To those skeptics who would insist that this was merely coincidence, I say their faith in their skepticism is stronger than their reason. During a once in a lifetime moment of meaning, a ritual where I am sharing my point of light in a light filled universe, for me at that precise moment to express just two desires, and for the both of them to then almost instantly be fulfilled in the most blazonly fashion possible, that is not 'coincidence'. The odds of that are so far beyond astronomical as for it to be sheerest nonsense to entertain the idea that it was just chance.
As far as I am concerned, in that moment the universe spoke to me. I am not so foolish as to try to interpret the meaning of that with my ape brain. I will say that from that point, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that there is more to reality than is dreamt of in the minds of men. I have known a serenity since then. I am no longer haunted by unanswerable questions. The answers are not important. The universe is truly grand, and to me that is all enough.