I have actually known actual prophets.
One I sort of adopted for a period of time, she being lost in the world, and I very much needing to “pay a bill” for a prayer that I was desperate to see fulfilled. Not that that was the reason I took her under my wing. She needed something. And at the time I had something to give her.
So I did.
But as the adoption proceeded, and the grind of being around a prophet day-in and day-out began reshaping my sense of well-being, I fell back on the hope that this – doing something that I very much did not want to do for the grace of God – was indeed a bill. Which, to me, meant that the end of a prayer was in sight.
And at the time, I couldn’t have been more thrilled with that possibility.
And, as it happened, the prayer was answered. Very much to my benefit.
Thanks be to God.
I could watch her as she did her thing.
I must admit that until I went through a period of seeming to literally trip over real prophets, real, functioning prophets, I didn’t believe they really existed. Well, existed in the way a unicorn exists. Somewhere in our imagination. Or perhaps as something that was dropped over the side of the ark.
We don’t really know how annoying unicorns might have been. If they ever were.
But we do know how annoying prophets can be.
In your face. Black hysterics. Horrific events.
You’ve got to listen!
I gave her my Walkman and a tape of hymns sung by the choir at the Washington National Cathedral.
It seemed to soothe her. Give her mind something to focus on.
As her mind appeared to be always “on,” it gave her a wheel to run it on.
The words. The words.
Yes, I would nod. The words.
Mystics and prophets should never be in the same house at the same time.
One goes to quiet and depth; the other to frantic action.
Insistence versus release.
As I studied my adoptee, and the other prophets that happened to be flying around me at the time like horse flies, I got a sense of the constant motion in their souls. The waves that their type of vision drove their distress.
It’s there. Really there.
And it was. A lot of the time.
Now I have had visions that address actual, real historical events. Even ones in the future. Like the relationship between Israel and the Arab nations. But my visions feel more like an explanation, a text, on the matter.
Prophets see actual events. They are there before them.
They also speak to the these events. The symbolism held in the event. The meaning of it all.
I, as a mystic, would never dare such a feat. For me, the meaning in anything can change and reverse itself even in a moment, like the light through a prism. To attach a meaning to something just means, for me, that I will be kicked in the rear in a matter of time and made to look closer. And closer. And closer. Until even the concept of “meaning” is too diffused to exist any longer.
In the end, for me, it’s all good. Somewhere in there. Somewhere in the meaning. There is always God.
But for a prophet, in any given event, God is a hammer. A certain statement.
Although it seems like a sound, sure ground to stand on, it is, in fact, an unstable landslide of images and knowledge. It’s as though they stand in the middle of a tidal river, and have to contend with whatever comes their way. No matter what.
Prophets, I find, are the ravens of the soul. Calling out their warnings. Constantly circling the death and destruction that they see below them.
At one point in my I-have-a-prophet-tied-to-me-stage and being caught between responsibilities in one state and the sudden and very serious illness of my mother in another state, I grabbed my very own prophet and drove north. And because of time and demands and the amazing delight that my prophet and my mother took in each other, I actually left my prophet to tend my mother (talk about an answer to a prayer).
Who knew my mother could be made so happy by listening to such misery all the time?
The prophet settled into a contented domesticity, and my mother started to look forward to waking up in the morning again.
As I said earlier, Thanks be to God.
The experience performed miracles for them both.
My prophet, mightily fatigued by the actual, real responsibilities my mother’s care put on her, discovered a need to go and take care of someone in her own family. My mother, God bless her, got back on her feet. Despite all the medical warnings to the contrary.
So I retrieved my prophet and delivered her to where she wanted to go.
And did my own little happy dance when no one was looking.
This was a story, certainly, with no real significance.
Except that it got me to the point of writing one specific thing about prophets:
Prophets wake up the souls in other people.
If a prophet is a good one, knows what she is doing, she wakes up the souls in people around her and they listen to her warnings.
If a prophet achieves her goal, no one will ever know it.
For a prophet with create the prayers in those around her that will go to prevent the incident she is crying about.
In short, if a prophecy does not appear in reality, it may very well be because that the prophet did her job.