Levitation lessons are requested by the novices at the Benedictine Convent of Oby in Sylvia Townsend Warner’s engaging novel The Corner that Held Them.
Now there’s a thought!
How splendid it would be to be able to levitate. Jasmine, parish assistant, has suggested it could solve the problem of how to clean the high level windows in St Chrysostom’s. Unfortunately, it seems that those who have levitated as Christians didn’t always have an easily controlled direct flight path – we’d not want someone to crash into the windows.
Branwell Booth, son of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, told how at Salvation Army Holiness meetings “beyond all question he saw instances of levitation–people lifted from their feet and moving forward through the air.” Some early strands of Methodism record the phenomenon too, but the phenomenon does not seem to have been reported in the Church of England.
St Francis of Assisi was said to be able to levitate, as was the Orthodox saint St Seraphim of Sarov. Perhaps the greatest example is St Joseph of Cupertino (1603 – 1663) – feast day September 18th. It is recorded how this saintly Franciscan during the mass, and the church’s prayers, would levitate. Understandably his religious superiors felt this habit was rather disruptive to the congregation and so he was confined to a smaller sphere of influence.
Several world faiths have claimed examples of levitation among their followers. Examples are found, for example, in Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity. However the scientific community understandably remains rather sceptical, and explanations of illusion, hallucination etc are given.
Poor nuns of Oby, it seems then they may not achieve their aim to levitate – unless perhaps they wander into mystical ecstasy.
Perhaps an insight for us all from G K Chesterton, might serve as a first step towards levitation: Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.