What Revelation Has To Do With the Cheshire Cat (And Other Things I Didn’t Know)


The thing about a revelation is, it’s something you didn’t know before. If you were already clued in on this, you should have told me, because I totally missed the memo.

Knowledge is my thing. It’s, like, my thing. If I want to accomplish something, or I want to recover something, or I want to take action on something, pretty much always the first thing I do about any of it is read a book. I take notes in my books, too. It’s a very powerful technique. If I know everything about a thing, then everything will be under control, and I’ll be able to manage everything and everything will be okay. This is my entire mode of operation. Which I guess is why I was so not clued in on the nature of revelation.

Now I’ve been carried by revelations these last six years. God came for me with a long arm, like Jesus calling. I wasn’t asking in any way that felt to me like asking. I mean, I was asking, come to think of it, pretty desperately. But I was asking for knowledge that I could control. I was not asking for this other kind of knowledge, the kind that comes in backwards and tells you things that you don’t believe.

This is like a tree appearing from the top down. This is like the Cheshire Cat, with only its grin showing. And let’s be clear, I didn’t like it one bit. Who likes the Cheshire Cat? What a creepy character!

But that is how it happened to me. God came for me, with a long arm. Like the road to Damascus. I saw the top of the tree before the trunk. And I believed because I had no other choice. Since then I’ve been moved nearly two thousand miles by the same kind of discovery. It’s grown on me.  

I could never have told you ten years ago that I would be anywhere near where I am now. If it were up to me and my taking notes in the margins of beloved books, I wouldn’t be here. If it were up to me and the beautiful vision I had for my life—which, incidentally, crumbled into spectacular failures and other similar clumps of dust along the way—I would never have made this journey into being who I really am.

For many, these New Year days are full of celebrating new beginnings, or at least pretending to. But I never forget that every new beginning is a death of what came before. For those of us who have lost our fantasies to gain precious new truths, the new year is also a time for grief.

Just this evening I found myself in a strange moment of nostalgia, remembering some beautiful places that I’ve been. I’ve been many beautiful places. And I have so many old versions of myself now, to grieve. But they were collateral damage. They had to go. They had to be shed so that I could be the one that I am now. And I guess this onion has a few layers yet to be peeled. Who knows, what else I’m going to learn that I was completely sure I already knew? 

I’d love to be the one to write the next chapter of my story. I’d write it beautiful as can be. But then I’d be limited to what I can imagine, and what I can know. I’d be limited to my own worries and my own insecurities. That’s too high a price!

Just think. I might only be able to value gold, where God can value sunflowers. I might only be able to value neon lights, while God never tires of the miracles of rising sun and glittering stars. I might get it all wrong.

I still think the Cheshire cat is a creepy character. But these days I’ll take my truth upside down and in flashes and glimpses. I’ll take it that way because that’s the way it’s true. 

I’ll trust in revelation. 

Esther Emery