I saw a great light come down over Londonby Jay Ramsay
Original Language English
I saw a great light come down over London,
And buildings and cars and people were still
They were held wherever they were under the sky's
Clear humming radiance as it descended --
Everywhere, in shops, behind desks and on trains
Everything stopped as the stillness came down
And touched the crown of our heads
As our eyes closed, and the sky filled us
And our minds became the sky --
And everyone, regardless of crime class or creed
Was touched; as slowly we began to stir
Out of this penetrated light-filled sleep
Dizzily as the hand completed its dialing,
And the train lurched forward
And I saw faces looking at one another questioning,
I saw people meeting eye to eye and standing
Half amazed by each other's presence
I saw their mouths silently shaping the word why
Why didn't we know this? and yet knowing
They already knew, and without words
We all stood searching for the gesture
That would say it --
As the lights went green, and we drove on.
|-- from The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology), Edited by Ivan M. Granger|
/ Image by Arwen Abendstern /
I was a poor child, but raised in an affluent area of Southern California. Several of my friends lived in large houses, with manicured lawns, some with swimming pools in their back yards. My friends had two parents, while I was raised by a single mother. They had family dinner times, Sunday church or Saturday temple, went on family vacations together.
They were living the "normal" life, the American upper middle-class ideal. And I had a strange relationship with their world -- I craved its stability, the things and experiences my friends had that I didn't, but their normalcy was also foreign to me, even a bit eerie. It just didn't seem real to me somehow. In some ways I wanted it, but I didn't want to be snared by it.
By the time I was a teenager, I became obsessed with seeing through the facades of that "normal" reality. I wanted to know what secrets were hidden away in the overlooked shadows. I became interested in everything from meditation to history to science to linguistics -- all ways of trying to understand the hidden meaning behind the world that everyone takes for granted.
...And I was also fascinated by the phenomenon of UFOs.
I think that's one of the things I really like about this poem -- it can be read as a collective moment of awe, or of spiritual awakening, but it can just as easily suggest a city-wide encounter with a UFO. That's the first thing I think of reading this poem. It's not really clear what is happening, just that there is a shared moment of stillness and wonderment. Everyone stops and is confronted with a dazzling, otherworldly reality. What's actually happening seems less important than the shared experience. Not only is this a witnessing of something that transcends the day-to-day existence, but there is also a recognition of fundamental connection with everyone else. To me it is almost the opposite of a terrorist event; instead of tragedy, everyone comes together in a unifying moment of bliss and amazement.
Then, of course, the lights turn green, and the business of living continues. But perhaps those people carry with them just a bit more sacred wonder into their daily activities... and who knows the many subtle, far-reaching ways it will continue to radiate out through their lives? This is how private experiences of transformation -- otherworldy or of the inner world -- quietly transform the world.