My father is a wheat farmer in Kansas and I spent many summers working in the fields when I was growing up. I learned to drive at age 8 so I could drive the tractor with grain cart during harvest. At 14, I was helping my Dad cultivate and plant the ground.
At that time, I only thought about God when I had to attend church each week with my parents. ‘God’ was foreign to me. I didn’t give much thought to God until this year when I was traveling in the Amazon. Unexpectedly, ‘God’ suddenly became something familiar to me.
It happened one terrifying night in Peru when I ingested the sacred visionary medicine, Ayahuasca. ‘The medicine’ or ‘Vine of the Soul,’ as it is called, gives those who take it visions. Many people claim to see visions of angels and dead relatives. I, however, had a different experience.
Neon-demonic faces seemed to surround me in an inky blackness. I couldn’t remember my name, or those of my family. All I could see were those horrible neon faces in what seemed like hell. I was terrified, and for a long time, all I could do was sob.
I begged the shamans for help screaming “Oh God, oh God, help me, get these things away from me!”
“Yes,” said the shaman, “Focus on God.”
At that point, my mind went blank. I realized I never actually thought about what God meant to me. God? The man in the sky who punished people? I never felt close to God. In fact, there were times in my life when I felt like God had completely abandoned me, and as the demons surrounded me, that’s how I felt.
I tried desperately to think of what I learned about God in church, but I couldn’t seem to focus on anything.
“GOD,” I yelled, “WHERE ARE YOU!?”
And then, I flashed to the fields where I worked with my Dad.
I remembered how the red-tailed hawks would fly around the tractor looking for mice as we worked…and how you could see the wind dancing through a field of bright green wheat before it was ready for harvest. I remembered watching coyote pups play together and seeing deer graze in pastures. And the sunsets — central Kansas has the most amazing sunsets, with all colors from pink to dark purple, that dominate the sky every evening. With all of my strength, I focused on a sunset, and the demons that surrounded me faded away.
I realized I felt closest to God when I was out with nature helping my Dad farm. How ironic, I had to go to Peru to appreciate a sunset in Kansas.
I also realized that God never abandoned me. He was always around me in the plants and animals in my environment. No matter where I am, I can always look at a flower or a tree or even a blade of grass and see the face of God.
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