(Levels 1 to 9)
(Experienced on my first visit to Murchison Falls in Uganda in 2008)
Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you. (John 17:21)
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed to bring you to full knowledge of him. (Ephesians 1:17)
I am at peace within myself as I stand wanting with some uncertainty to accept what seems to be an outstretched hand of someone or something that is presenting as a friend who can guide me on the journey that I sense lies ahead.
I know I want to experience the journey but being typically human, I am a little uncertain about the unknown. However, I am encouraged by my friend and reach out and take the proffered hand.
We descend some steps together until we come to a landing platform called Level 1. I stop and looking back I can still see the top of the stairs. I have the choice of continuing or returning.
I decide to continue and soon realise I can no longer see where the steps are leading as in the distance the stairs get darker. It is not long before we come to a pool of water. It is Level 2. My friend invites me to look into the water and asks me what I see there. My response is that I see my own image.
My friend then explains that there is no other image like me in the whole world. The creator has made us all individually different. That’s nice I thought, the significance of the statement not really having a deep effect on me at that stage because on looking back I could still just make out the outline of my starting point and I was uncertain whether to turn back or trust in my friends guidance to take me forward safely.
I thought so far, so good. I was still keen to explore the unknown but was still a little anxious about the journey. I kept going but found I was holding my friend’s hand a little stronger than before. More steps and it was getting even darker. A quick look back and I could not see from whence I had begun. It was then I could hear the distant noise. A rumbling sound which as I progressed further down the steps seemed as if it might be water. We stopped. Level 3.
My friend never let go of my hand and I boldly decided I would continue if only to discover the source of the noise I could still only faintly hear in the distance.
More steps and always downward. It was strange, I at no time thought about the effort it would take to come back! Still onward and the noise became much more distinct. It was definitely the sound of rushing water. I was not scared. My friend was not forcing me forward; I was proceeding at my own pace. There was now more light available and it seemed we had come to the end of the steps for ahead was a small timber bridge over a creek. We stopped to admire the beauty of the area. Level 4.
My friend let go of my hand and asked me to look at my fingers. I wasn’t sure why but did as was suggested. I couldn’t see anything strange about them and asked the reason for this request. I was informed that my finger prints were different from any others in the world. While I had known this fact since a small child, the significance had never really had a great impact on me. It now dawned on me. First there was the image in the water now the fingerprints. I am truly unique I thought. For all my faults and imperfections I am still special in the eyes of my maker. It is a daunting thought but I thanked my God for this opportunity of understanding the wonder of creation.
There was no point in trying to talk with my friend as the noise ahead was deafening. But still I took the hand offered to me and we continued along a flat pathway until we rounded a corner and there was the source of the sound. The mighty Nile River, the longest river in the world was being compressed and forced to pour through a gap in the rocks which was only 7 metres wide before falling to the plain below.
We sat on a bench seat to just watch and listen. Level 5.
I could not help but liken the raw strength and energy that pervaded this site to the power of our God. My friend turned to me and said that the sound you hear is but a whisper when compared to the love our God has for each one of us. The sound had drowned out any of the worldly sounds that may have wanted to pervade this precious time.
My friend was beckoning me to come and I was no longer afraid. We walked upwards along a narrow track that followed the chasm down which the water flowed at great speed smashing on the surrounding rocks so as to form a constant spray in the atmosphere. A natural rainbow formed where the suns rays hit the spray. I could feel the dampness all around and my face was refreshingly wet. Level 6.
To my left through the luxuriant growth I could see I was being led into what appeared to be a cave. The further we walked inside, the darker it got and the sound from the falls we had left gradually dissipated. Then there was nothing, just blackness. My friend still held my hand. I was not alone. Level 7.
As we walked along what appeared to be a flat floor surface it was strange not knowing where I was going yet now not afraid to proceed. Then I thought I could see a distant pin prick of light. My friend assured me my mind wasn’t playing tricks with me. A few more paces and the light became a definite reality even though it was yet far away. Level 8.
For some reason I was excited. The light held no fear for me. I walked with confidence towards it and as it grew brighter I realised my friend was no longer with me. This also didn’t deter me from going forward and I moved as if drawn hypnotically towards it, like a moth to a candle.
The light grew stronger and I felt as if I was floating towards it. I was enveloped in what felt like an atmosphere of love. It seemed to penetrate my every pore. I wanted to stay here forever. I believe I was at last one with my God.