Touched by the unknown: A nun from beyond?

When the Doctor had left the Sanatorium with Mother St. Paul, I tried to get out of bed, but felt so weak, that I flopped on the bed again.

It was in Good Shepherd Convent, Kandy. I had been very ill for more than two weeks, and missed lessons in my H.S.C. Class. And now the doctor had ordered two more weeks of bed-rest. After a while I got up slowly and went to the bathroom. My face in the mirror looked terrible - thin and gaunt.

Mother Paul checked up on me at 8 p.m. Her next visit would be around 10 p.m. Unable to fall asleep, I was tossing and turning in my bed, when I heard footsteps approaching the sick room. The room was very dark and I braced myself for the light that would flood the room when Mother entered, but nothing happened. Now the footsteps were approaching my bed, and I thought I’d pretend to be asleep.

But why was Mother standing so silently in the dark, without speaking to me or touching me?

Long seconds ticked by, and then in one heart-stopping moment I knew two things at once. One, I had no doubt whatsoever that someone was standing at my bedside and two, that this “Person” was not a human being at all. The thought had hardly struck me when I felt this invisible presence bending over me, closer and closer, till I thought that his/her face would touch mine. In that instant I felt a coldness sweep over my entire body. It was a freezing cold that penetrated the warm blankets and entered my very bones.

Many times in my life I’ve tried to recapture my feelings at the time of this happening. It was not horror; there was no evil emanating from this being. It was more a terrible awe and a fear of the numinous that there is within us all.

I waited, hardly daring to breathe, when I felt the ‘figure’ straightening up ever so slowly. At the same time the coldness began to leave my body. Then footsteps sounded again, this time leading away from my bedside, across the room and along the corridor, getting fainter till I heard them no more.

My mind in a turmoil, I lay still for a long time. Brisk footsteps approached my door again and Mother Paul switched on the light. I continued to pretend to be asleep. She touched my forehead, tucked the blankets around me and left switching off the light. The door clicked shut.

When I woke up it was dawn. The memory of what had happened the night before came flooding back, but what amazed me was this wonderful feeling of well-being. I felt bright and fresh and eager to be up and about – and ravenously hungry.

When the doctor came quite early with Mother Teresa this time, I was sitting up in bed. As I smiled a greeting, I noticed the startled look on both faces. After a cursory check the doctor, sounding mystified, announced that I could get back to school the next day. “There is nothing wrong with this young lady now,” he said.

The moment they left, I jumped out of bed with alacrity and went for a wash. I looked in the mirror and saw that my face, though thin, was not wan. My skin looked fresh and my eyes were bright. It was as if I had never been ill at all.

A few months passed. For fear of spreading panic among the boarders, I had confided in only one other girl. One evening when Mother Teresa was alone at her desk Myra urged me to talk to her. “Let’s see what she says,” she remarked.

After I related the entire incident, Mother was silent for a long time. “You needn’t have feared,” said Mother, “She would never have harmed you.”“She?” I queried. “A nun died in that room a very long time ago,” explained Mother, “When this area was occupied by the nuns.

I’m sure it was she who visited you.” She looked at me with a smile. “And don’t you remember your amazing recovery?” she asked, “That nun returned on an errand of mercy,” she added, “to give back good health to a sick young schoolgirl”.

Now, each time I recall my visitor from another dimension, I feel specially privileged to have been touched by the unknown.

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