Revelations at 4 a.m.

September 26, 2014 - Ralph Cissne

In mid-June my older brother was in the VA hospital recovering from cancer surgery. The prayers and support of friends were welcome, but I experienced tremors of spiritual malaise. My older sister and I visited each day keenly aware our brother’s unrestrained optimism was his greatest ally. And then one night the awakenings began. I sat up in bed alert and clear headed. This never happens even if I had slept eight hours. “What is this?” I asked aloud. There was no response, no thunder or lightening bolts or earthquake served cause. My phone read 4:11. “How weird.” I wandered to the kitchen, took a drink of water and went outside. The stars were bright, the night calm. I dressed and began my work.

Three days later it happened. “Again?” I asked, rolling toward the nightstand. It was 4:11. I acknowledged this as extraordinary, even laughable and was bemused by a universal call from the collective consciousness. There was only one place to turn – Google. Although raised in a Christian tradition, quoting Biblical verse is not my way. I searched for Revelations 4:11. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

As an adolescent I learned the reflexive property of equality, that anything was equal to itself. If A = B and B = C then A = C. There was no truth other than what you accept. These days everything is subject to interpretation. Yet I had long accepted we are creations of love or God or random intoxicated couplings. There is always an aspect of the divine involved. That has been my experience. We are divine love and creator and, on occasion, an intoxicated coupler. The power was ours to use as we choose. Do we create or do we destroy?

I awoke for the third time in ten days at exactly 4:11. I smiled like I suddenly recalled the combination to my high school locker. Over the weeks that followed, through July and into August, I shared my wake up call with friends facing loss, disease or financial hardship. At a memorial gathering in California I was surprised and released a flood of tears. Later a friend recently diagnosed with lung cancer asked, “Do you know why these people are sad?” I thought how our conversations had shifted since he was diagnosed. “The loss reminds them of how fragile we are,” I said. “That the end is never far away.”

I asked other friends who are cancer survivors. During the worst of it they focused all of their attention on “re-mission” and the repurposing of their life. “This is not going to beat me,” they affirmed. “I will live.” Perhaps they were lucky or brave or blessed with tight genes. Perhaps their prayers were answered. Clarity makes a difference. It cannot hurt. The will is a muscle that must be exercised. I accept if one is willing to surrender to the great adventure, to let go of suffering and worldly bindings, that is also an act of creation and courage.

On the long drive back to Oklahoma, the solitude of the open road served to clear my mind. I have made this drive countless times, often rushing through the night, but this trip was in the light of day. Above me the cloudless sky was reflex blue, the high desert alive with red rock mesas and evergreen cleansed and replenished from torrential rains. The storms have passed. I found myself at peace.