by Dr. Lee Pulos and Gary Richman
It was Thomaz’s twelfth birthday. Dr. Morais did not believe in commemorating such occasions and acknowledged holidays only under rare circumstances. He was a studious, hard-working man who believed that everyone should share his regimen of long hours. The youngster, however, had other ideas. Dr. Morais had purchased a small farm in the district of Fasqueira, near Pouso Alegre. Fasqueira literally translates as “a place where lightning strikes.” The region has unusually frequent thunderstorms, and a nearby grove of eucalyptus trees poking into the sky often attracts the accompanying discharges of lightning. In the center of Fasqueira is a small lake that provides excellent fishing. Thomaz felt drawn to that spot to celebrate his birthday privately.
He had been working in the pharmacy all day, and when his father denied his request to be allowed to go fishing at five o’clock, the youngster struck back, threatening to shoot marbles with his friends. He knew that his father resented the “pint-size undesirables” who might contaminate him with notions of shirking work or studying. Dr. Morais opted for the lesser of two evils. He allowed Thomaz to go fishing, instructing him to remain overnight at the farmhand’s shack; he would come by for him in the morning.
Thomaz streaked out of the pharmacy, walked six kilometers to a fork in the road, and was picked up by an ox cart, which carried him the final four kilometers to his destination. As he lay on his back in the cart looking at the rapidly accumulating dark clouds, he had a strange thought. “A strange force was drawing me there,” he recalled. “It felt as if I could not resist it.” He also thought it odd that “a big cloud seemed to be following us.” His absorption was broken by the rumblings of thunder and the sprinkling of rain. He jumped off the ox cart and ran to the caretaker’s shack, where he found his bamboo fishing pole. Quickly digging up several worms, Thomaz headed for the lake.
Dr. Morais’ farm is located two hundred meters east of the lake. A path leads from the lake to a small grotto below. Water flows through the grotto, where a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes stands on an elevated ledge. At this local shrine Thomaz received his first communion. On a nearby hill overlooking the area is an old church with a bell tower and steeple.
Thomaz bolted to the edge of the water, where he left his fishing pole and can of worms. Making his way down to the grotto and shrine, he recited the Lord’s Prayer and cupped cool water into his mouth. Fulfilling this customary ritual for anyone fishing at the Fasqueira, Thomaz returned to his lakeside spot to fish. As he lay there in shorts, bare feet dangling in the water, the fishing line stretched into the water, his drowsy reverie was broken by the chiming and echoing of the church bell. On the sixth and final gong, a bolt of lightning uncoiled from a peculiarly low dark cloud, struck the top of the bamboo pole, and sizzled down the pole as if it were a quick-burning fuse. Thunder exploded around him. Thomaz felt that he was being catapulted in two directions simultaneously. His physical body bounced upwards several feet in the air “like a Ping-Pong ball,” and then jolted back. At the same time his mind floated eight or nine feet above the scene and could “see” all that was happening below.
Thomaz was bewildered and alarmed. “How can I be up here and down there at the same time?” he wondered. He could actually see his physical body, motionless and suspended in midair. He was still clutching the remains of the charred fishing pole in his hands. He tried to scream but had no voice.
Time seemed to melt; he could no longer use it as a reference. Fear gave way to terror when he saw a circular cloud descend and envelop his physical body, which began to emanate, or be bombarded with, multicolored sparks; he couldn’t be sure. As if to escape from what was happening, he thought of himself as soaring upward. Suddenly, he found himself at a much higher altitude, but below he could still see the Fasqueira and his body.
He became aware of a profound calming silence, shattered by a loud booming blast, followed by more silence. Then, from the vicinity of the cloudy shroud around his physical being, Thomaz heard a voice that he recollects as sounding “neither masculine nor feminine.” It had a “clear but echoing” quality and intoned a message.
“Tho—maz, Tho—maz,” the voice called. “Today you are specially protected by varied forces . . . by natural forces . . . you will be our antenna . . . you will be able to help others and enact strange phenomena . . . but you will never be able to use this force for your own benefit . . . save the remains of your fishing pole, and when you need it, use it . . . you should give splinters of the pole to those in need and it will form a spiritual chain among them . . . you can effect this power every evening at six o’clock.” Further, everyone who received a fragment of the pole was to be instructed to meditate and “mentalize” healing thoughts at 6:00 p. m. daily.
After this curious pronouncement, Thomaz could “see” the circular cloud lift and slowly dissipate. Suddenly, his out-of-body consciousness melded with his physical form. He experienced the sensation of defying gravity and his body floated to the earth as if in slow motion. Touching the ground, Thomaz felt a great sense of relief and thought to himself, “That was the most incredible dream I have ever had.” He was puzzled by the fact that he began his dream at the edge of the water, yet awakened nine meters away. Even more baffling was the charred fishing rod which he still clenched in his hands. The boundaries of his reality at that moment were wobbly. He still tried to justify his experience as a dream. “Where is the rest of the fishing pole? How did I get here? Am I going crazy?” Looking up at the darkened sky and threatening rain, Thomaz took off, running as fast as he could.
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