"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." ALBERT EINSTEINTo a veteran observer of Nature, seeing the invisible is no oxymoron. It happens all the time. You know something’s there because you can see or hear or smell its effects on stuff that’s around it. A branch breaks, potential prey scatters, a leaf’s folded over in just a certain way.
In those instances, there’s really no trick to it; you’re still just calling on your five basic physical senses, albeit asking a bit more of them. But there are other ways to sense, ways not so easy to explain.
This is new ground for most of us, a place where the physical becomes irrelevant, and where the rational and irrational begin to collide. It’s the realm of intuition and its inseparable companion, faith.
You know that feeling you get when you just sense that someone’s looking at you? Or those “little voices” that occasionally tell you to do something you weren’t even aware needed doing?
Call it what you want; dismiss it if you must. But I believe intuition is one of many credible ways of knowing. I accept it for the mysterious gift it is, one I hope to understand better, and one which already has proven quite real for me.
She was sitting on the floor, hands
to her neck, fighting for every breath.
Can you really know about something even though there’s no rational way you could have known it?
Many years ago, my kids—then about five and six years old—were staying with me for the summer. Since my apartment was pretty small, I’d arranged for us to house sit the beautiful, sprawling, modern home of a couple of University of Minnesota astronomy professors while they traveled.
I took the master bedroom, while the kids—well, you know kids—they slept in bedrooms as far away from me as possible, on the lower level of what you might call the guest wing of the house.
I’m not a light sleeper, but one night at about 3:00 AM I suddenly sat straight up in bed and knew something wasn’t right. I listened hard for a few seconds and heard nothing. I could easily have dismissed the event as a bad dream or a quirk of being in a strange house, but the feeling was too insistent.
Still just half awake, I hurried across the living room, downstairs, past Jeff's room and right to Amanda’s room. She was sitting on the floor, hands to her neck, her face beet red. Fighting for every breath, she looked terrified.
It’s tough to separate the whims
from the wants from the warnings.
Long story short: I called 911; the ambulance came; the paramedics slapped an oxygen mask on Amanda; and away we sped—lights, siren and all—to Regions Hospital. By then, her breathing was back to normal. The ER doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with her and sent us home.
We’ll never know what would have happened that night if I hadn’t felt drawn to Amanda’s room. Did my instinct and a little oxygen save her life? Or might the only consequence have been that she and I ended up with a great story to share? Either way, I’m so grateful I was able to feel that little disturbance in the universe that night and decided not to ignore it.
Our little voices come to us in many forms and in many tones, from the dire warning I experienced with Amanda, to the quiet inner counsel one might hear about a new relationship, to the much-needed encouragement we sense when a risk just feels like the right thing to do.
In fact, if you’re like me so many little threads of intuition lace through your mind that it’s tough to separate the whims from the wants from the warnings. How do you know which of your little voices to heed or not heed?
I suppose, in the end, the guidance we receive from our various muses is not so different from the advice offered us by people. We learn, by experience, that some can be trusted, some we file away for future reference, and others we politely acknowledge and then wholeheartedly ignore.