I’m a reader. Always have been. I will read almost anything except fluffy romance or cold war stories. Even the hyper-active wild child that I was when I was small would sneak away and hide under the coffee table in the living room and read for hours. I had a notebook like Harriet the Spy and solved mysteries like Trixie Belden.
I like to read in waves. I love to find a subject and explore it thoroughly. Early this summer, I went, again, through Pearl S. Buck. This put me on a China track and I read book after book about pre-war China, the poverty, foot binding, the lifestyle. China crept into my life and I found myself ordering vegetable moo shu almost daily from the restaurant up the street.
After that, though, I got on a kick about NDEs. Honestly, this has been life changing.
When I was 27, one of my best friends died. She had been my cohort throughout high school. She knew where the bodies were buried. After school, our paths went completely different ways and while she traveled with bands, dated celebrities and partied, I got married. When she was 24, in the late 80s, she came home sick. Really sick. We picked up our friendship and I watched as, over the next three years, she wasted away.
One of the sharpest people I’ve ever known, The Goose and I adored her. She ate with us, lived part time in her room at our house, went to work with me. We sat at the same booth at Houston’s in Buckhead so often that the hostess knew it was “our booth”. We laughed continually and she was an everyday part of our household. The Goose and I went to Paris that spring and when I came home, she was gone, having slipped away while we weren’t watching.
My grief was all encompassing. I am a person who, when confronted with something scary or overwhelming, does not rent her clothing or wail. I get very quiet and shut down. Sometimes I escape in a book.
That was the year Embraced by the Light came out. I picked it up out of desperation and I did find it comforting. I have never had a crisis of faith. God makes sense to me, even if some of the churchy details don’t. I’m a prayer. I bother God about lots of things. I honestly yack his ears off all day long. I don’t question why bad things happen. I understand completely about having free will and what mankind has done to ourselves. I do question why animals suffer, being such pure spirits. But even with my faith, I certainly did mourn the loss of my friend.
Embraced by the Light, whether or not one believes her account, was fascinating, although certainly not my favorite. I saw where recently, doctors have come out with new studies about NDEs, or near death experiences, and this sparked my interest in, again, reading the accounts of those who have been down this road .
Instead of shoving personal brands of religion down non-believer’s throats, I wonder why no one thinks to approach belief in God in this way? Yes, God is faith, but some folks just aren’t accepting of anything that smacks of Earnest Angley (say baby) brands of God. Surely it is the hypocrisy of “religion” that makes everyone so crazy. What a shame church has snuffed out so much that’s good and comforting about God. Maybe this would be great reading for someone searching for a little proof.
So, I’ve been swimming through these accounts. I just Googled NDEs and jumped in. I read everything in my local library, received daily deliveries from Amazon and Half, and waded through websites until my reading glasses made dents on my nose. I’ve consumed book after book of documented stories folks tell upon being resuscitated. Giant towering stacks of books about children who have died and come back. Kids just tell it like it is and their stories are great, comforting and funny. There are blurbs from Hindus, Muslims, atheists, and old accounts from history, some centuries old. The really awesome thing is that they all tell basically the same story.
Call it what you will, almost all end up calling it “God”. Many call it “The One”. I like that! This is not gender specific. It’s not contained to a certain faith, although a huge percentage, including those of other faiths, do see Jesus. I will definitely see Jesus. Not the Jaysus of the TV evangelist, but the loving and accepting personification of God. There is always a light. There are always loved ones who have gone before and, to my eternal delight, there are animals in some accounts as well. There will most definitely be animals waiting for me and my mother will be there, shooing them away from her lest their celestial animal fur get on her skirt. There is total acceptance. There are usually life reviews wherein what’s important is not what one has done wrong, but the love one has shown to others. Many accounts say that we have been together in spirit form before we’re born and make the decision to come to Earth, much like a life university, and learn from the hardships in the life we choose. I don’t know why this angers some. God says he knows us even before we’re formed.
Even in the stories, which are few, that are bad, or seem to be of Hell, there is a desire to go to the light, to be with the light, to make-up or get things right with the light. Each and every person, without exception, whose story I read, came back with one desire. To love more. To love God, to love others, to lift each other up and show kindness. Possessions didn’t matter anymore, politics, hatred, the crap of the world all fell away. They came back to help others and wait for the time that they’re called “home” again. The thought that came through again and again is how we are all connected.
The story that blew me away was about a blind woman. Blind from birth, she had never experienced color. She had heard about it, but had no context for it. When she died, she saw colors. She exclaimed over and over that though she couldn’t put a name to each one, she had seen colors. She had seen. She had descriptions of things she had never touched that she could only have learned through sight. When she came back, of course, she was blind again, with the memory of sight, but looked forward to a time when she was, again, “home”.
I am digging all this. It has given me a decidedly hopeful feeling in my heart. Although I never doubt where I will go when I die, and am in no hurry to get there, it’s always good to see the vacation slides of others who have been before. In the midst of the storm and fury that goes on in the news, I feel a strange calm and perspective that probably won’t last, but is certainly enjoyable now because I am looking at things through this long range lens. It has caused me to feel a lot less disturbed about the things I can’t control and a desire to do some lasting good while I’m here.
This is reading thread I highly recommend to anyone who is down about the state of things, feeling alone or just sick of daily crap.
My son’s friend told me he didn’t believe I could become any more of a tree hugging hippie until he heard me spout off about this new interest of mine, and I do get how loony it sounds. I can’t help but share it though, as I’ve been talking, ad nauseam, to my family about it since I started reading. If I’ve picked up anything through all these books and articles, it is how we are all so deeply interconnected and so I hope others will find this fascinating as well.