While I felt kinship with my brothers and other kids my age, I knew inside that I was different. I was drawn to energy more than people—and my curiosity often got me in trouble. I loved thunderstorms and rushed outside every time black clouds gathered overhead to experience the pureness of the energy and the rain. As bolts crashed down from the roiling sky, I felt as though the thunder and lightning were wrapping around me, as if to hug me. The electricity seemed to pulse through my blood. I felt alive. What a thrill! I was in heaven. But when I returned home, soaked to the bone, that reality quickly crashed into a living hell. My mother was furious with me. What foolishness to drench my only set of clothes!
“Are you an idiot?” she yelled, stripping me of my clothing and my dignity.
When my father returned from his late shift at the factory, the harsh words turned into blows as he beat my naked body with his belt. I whimpered but took it in stride. Corporal punishment for children was part of life in Communist China. Given the harshness and challenges families faced, there was no tolerance whatsoever for disobedience, which was bad news for me, for I had a bit of a mischievous streak.
I was curious and willful. There was a cry from deep within my soul for knowledge about the nature of the universe. Why was I here? Where did all of this come from? I needed answers. I couldn’t help myself.
Indeed, with the next thunderstorm, I was at it again—rushing outside and lighting up as rain pelted the earth and violent electrical explosions crackled down from the heavens…
Hours later, when I finally returned home, my parents were furious. My father’s belt came off, along with my rain-soaked clothes and… wham! The beating began. It happened again and again…
I needed a place to go to lick my wounds from my father’s punishing belt. Underneath my parents’ cot was a safe hideaway where our mattress was tucked every morning, with just enough room for me to wriggle between them—a cozy cocoon where no one would bother me. After each beating, I took refuge in this darkened cavern, laying inert in the fetal position for hours on end.
When I slithered into this nook, I could close my eyes and go into a meditative state, imagining a cosmic blanket covering and comforting me. It felt nice, though not as powerful as the celestial embrace I’d feel in a thunderstorm. People experience God in different ways. For some, it’s a feeling in their heart—like Love or Peace. For me it simply began as a sense of safety and comfort.
Then one time in my hideaway, something extraordinary happened…
Feverish from the welts that were burning my body, I begged God for solace, and all at once there was a murmuring within the darkness.
I say “murmuring,” but it was not auditory—it seemed to be energetic: a “Presence”… something blanketing me, growing in amplitude, and suddenly it was all around me… the Light.
That was my first encounter with it.