For several years, I have had a strange experience around people. Now, this experience is not something which is described in Scripture or in spiritual writings, except in a few contexts which I have found. Let me explain the experience, and then the contexts.
The experience is one of sensing people as solid or as not solid, spiritually and physically. When I am around certain people, such as Fr. Z. or Mr. C, or Mrs. S., I am struck with how they spiritually feel solid as well as are physically.
Frequently, I "sense" this automatically about a person and then later find out that this man or woman is a person of intense prayer. This person feels solid, and I call him or her a pillar.
Sometimes I sense this without knowing much about the person.
Around other people, I have a sense of them being like wraiths. That is, these people seem shadowy and insubstantial.
This is not a value judgement, but a reaction or a sense which just happens. Most of the time, I do not even know the people. It is like being in a movie where the zombies look like normal people except for one thing.
Now. there is a third category, and those are the solidly evil. Like the holy pillars, these people are solid, but, and a big but, these people have demonstrated evil propensities and decisions in their lives. This group is very small. and I can say that I have met few which strike me as bad pillars. Most of those people who have shared with me that they are freely living sinful lives, such as witches I have met, or businessmen who admitted being dishonest have seemed like bad pillars, while the vast majority of people who have shared with me that they are contracepting, or that they are living in fornication are not bad pillars, but wraiths. There are more wraiths than pillars of both types, even in church.
Why this happens, I do not know. The amazing thing I have noticed is that the wraiths are afraid of the pillars. Very---afraid. I am not afraid of anyone, except that being who can kill the soul.
To me, the pillars are the most alive people around. Their persons exude life. They are more alive than most people, than the wraiths. Sadly, the bad pillars get their solidness from being committed to evil, while the good pillars are the rocks which build the Church. They are solid and good because they are full of God. God makes them strong.
I wonder if anyone else experiences this odd phenomenon?
Now, here are two contexts which help understand this.
The first is purely linguistic. We call certain people pillars of society, that is, they have a certain moral authority and give back to the community what they have been given. They are like the salt of the earth.
Of course, as in Ibsen's play, some people can seem to be good and really be bad. There are many examples of good and bad pillars, and wraiths in literature. The character of Bulstrode in Middlemarch is an excellent example of the arch-hypocrite, but he is a wraith.
A wraith has a dead soul. I was a wraith but God had mercy on me and brought me back to Christ and His Church. A wraith may not know he or she is dead. Pillars are powerful and alive.
Unlike the wraiths, the Nazgul, in LOTR, the wraiths have no power, none. They may have a bit of will, but no power. Pillars are powerful.
We also have the image in the Old Testament of God appearing as a Pillar of Smoke by day and a Pillar of Fire by night to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt into the Promised Land. So a pillar leads, and guards, as God guarded His People in the Wilderness.
The second context is that Mary, Our Mother and Blessed Lady is called, among other things, Tower of David, Tower of ivory, House of gold, Gate of Heaven. Now, a Gate has pillars, to hold it up and towers usually need pillars, as well as houses, grand houses. Mary, herself, is referred to in liturgical, architectural and historical terms. She is the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant. She is the pillar in the house of David, being of that lineage and she, like ivory, one of the strongest natural things, is solid.
Mary is a rock which evil can dash itself against and be ruined.
So too, we are called to be pillars-to be strong and for the building of the Church. In fact, Timothy calls the Church THE pillar.
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15 DR
I cannot claim any special gift for feeling wraiths and pillars, and I hope I am wrong about so many wraiths. I do not want to think about other people, either, being in training to keep my eyes on Christ totally. However, I think it is good to recognize the pillars, of both kinds, and especially pray for the wraiths.
from The Wasteland by T. S. Eliot
|Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,|
|A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,|
|I had not thought death had undone so many.|
|Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,|
|And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.||65|
|Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,|
|To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours|
|With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.|
|There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying “Stetson!|
|You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!||70|
|That corpse you planted last year in your garden,|
|Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?|
|Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?|
|Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,|
|Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!||75|
|You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”|