This was written only a couple months after the experience. It is posted in my blog. I was still recovering from major brain surgery and trying to find words for what I had experienced.
I gave the surgeon a high-five and told him, ‘You’ll be a rock star!’ as I was being rolled into the operating room. Talking and hospital activities faded as I drifted into unconsciousness.
Then, suddenly I was wide awake, but I wasn’t in the hospital. I wasn’t in this world. It was unspeakably beautiful all around me. The colors were so vivid that they seemed to emanate light. As I began to take in what I was seeing, I realized that I was sitting on what looked like an enormous wing. It was bright, colorful, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The brightness was so intense that it should have been blinding, but it didn’t hurt my eyes at all. My vision was acute there. I could see even the tiniest detail clearly.
The wing was auburn and gold and then browns, too. For some reason the color surprised me. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about it, but I guess thanks to TV, I expected angels to be white or light gold. I was fascinated by the material that the wing was made of, because it was made of something I had never seen before. It was almost like melted metal, but it was partially transparent, like a gemstone and was extremely bright with light. The wing was strong, as though it wasn’t made of particles, but rather was one solid thing. I could see amber colored ‘veins’ running through it, like veins that run through marble. I reached down to touch the wing, to feel what it was, but couldn’t feel it. I don’t remember if I saw my hand as I reached down.
All of it was other-worldly, and yet it felt like ‘home’ in a way I can’t describe. There was an overwhelming feeling of love, like I’d never known before, but somehow knew existed. I knew this was the Love of God, but it was so much more intense than I could have imagined. The love was soothing, comforting, and irresistible. It was all-powerful and overwhelming; it ‘lifted me up’ with a joy and hope. There was no fear or sadness. I felt like I could spend forever just taking in the beauty, the love, and incomprehensible wonder all around me.
I remember thinking that it felt as though everything I had done wrong in my life had never happened. I hadn’t realized, before that moment, how those memories had weighed heavily on me. Today, when I read about the visions men in the Bible had, my eyes fill with tears, because I know what they saw and how hard it is to describe. There was peace, joy, happiness, and the lack of any pain. It was clear to me that I was in a different dimension than I had known. I knew that I was no longer in my body, on earth.
Around me, outside of the glorious glow of the being that held me, was nothing. But I sensed that there was much more beyond this place. I felt perfectly safe. There was no fear. I am sure that what held me was an angel. I thought of my family who I had left behind. But I didn’t feel upset or worry for them. I knew that they would be cared for in my absence, so much so, that I only thought about them briefly. There was a very, very faint sound, like the rushing of air or water far off in the distance. I started to try to sort out my surroundings.
I noticed that the source of the love was to my right, up above my shoulder. Peace, joy, and comfort were all to my lower left. These feelings were an outgrowth of the love. I don’t know the significance of where things were, if they related to the being that held me, or something else.
My thoughts went back to the world from which I had come. I knew that I was finished with the life I had lived there, and it seemed like such a small span of time that I had been there. I realized that it wasn’t as real as where I was now, and that this dimension was somehow hidden from those who lived in the world. But I knew that the time in the world was necessary. It was where we realized the existential need we had for our creator. We chose the only true life that exists, through His all-powerful spirit. God’s power and love filled everything there with eternal truth that has always been and always will be. This was ‘glory’: This was ‘holiness’. The chasm between humanity and this place was very clear. God had reached down to man to bring him here. These were among the things that somehow, I just knew.
At that point I felt a ‘tingle’ in the lower part of my left leg. I had a fleeting thought that the surgeon must be working on something that affected that part of my body, which is interesting, because I was in this place and not the hospital. From seeing that, I believe that this was a dimension which parallels the one we are living. The sensation caused me to look down. Down to my left and over my shoulder, I saw what looked like silhouettes of people. Their bodies were dark, and I saw no details of their faces. They weren’t solid, like the angel. They were clearly made of particles, mostly dark, and then there were a very few particles that were light. Each silhouette had a glow around it that was bright and glorious, like the wing. I understood that they were somehow part of both worlds. There were a lot of these silhouettes. They moved and they talked to each other. Although I could not hear them, I saw their gestures and their mouths moving when they were turned to the side.
Then I heard a voice say, ‘The multitude is petitioning for you.’ The voice was another thing that I find so difficult to describe. It was male, very strong and powerful, but yet it was gentle and filled with love. I remember having the thought that I could linger here forever, and just experience this joy, this beauty, and this love. I was excited and expectant. Then I looked at the silhouettes of people again. I was amazed and touched that so many of them were praying for me. I heard the voice again, ‘The petition is granted.’
In the next instant, I was aware of feeling my physical body. I hadn’t noticed before, but I had not felt my physical body during the experience except that ‘tingle’ in my lower leg. I heard women’s voices. I was in the recovery room in the hospital. The colors were gone; the feelings of love, peace, and joy lingered like a close memory. I fought hard to hold on to those feelings. I fought back the tears. I was not at all sure that I wanted to be back here. I longed to be back in that beautiful place, with that love, peace, and joy. I was very conflicted. But I knew from the words that had been spoken that it had been decided where I belonged.
I started to talk and kept talking, nearly non-stop for at least several days about how ‘I was in heaven!’ I was corrected by the staff, ‘No, sweetie, you’re at the Medical Center. We’re not letting you go to heaven today.’ I was told repeatedly that ‘You are going to be all right, everything is all right.’ I heard the nurses talk among themselves as I lay there, feeling as though I was caught between two worlds. They whispered things like, ‘She keeps talking about going to heaven.’
Realizing that I was back in the physical world, I instinctively tried moving my legs and my arms to see if the surgery had damaged anything. Everything worked perfectly, and I was so thankful. I knew then that I was experiencing a miracle, being alive, and being whole. The surgeons had done a miraculous job, but I knew that God himself had given my life back to me in direct response to the prayers that had been said for me. It was only later that I learned just how many people had actually been involved in that prayer effort. As it turned out, it was, in fact, a ‘multitude’. It is humbling beyond words that so many people prayed for my life. That thought still brings tears to my eyes. I believe that what I saw was a gift. I saw the great contrast between that world and this one. It was life changing to see all of it so clearly.
As I lay in my bed recovering, I would look out my window and I saw for the first time, how completely devastated God’s beautiful world was. I felt a strong sense of mourning over how broken this once-beautiful world is. It is only a remnant now of how beautiful it was created. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew, and it made me sad. For whatever the reason, I had been given a glimpse of glory, and the thought of somehow living this life independent from the source of life and love seems insane to me.
I’m sure there are skeptics who would have plenty to say about the side effects of anesthesia, or people dreaming while they are in surgery, but I don’t care. I know what I saw. The experience has profoundly affected me. I see my current life as something brand new. Something, which, I believe, could easily not have been part of the plan. I feel a new and intense gratitude when I wake up each and every morning. Things that used to bother me don’t matter. People matter. Life matters. Love matters. Knowing and standing for the truth matters. I am always aware of the other dimension, but in a more personal way than what I had known as ‘faith’.
My memory still takes me back to that place almost daily. The heightened awareness of that other dimension has dulled with time, and I need to think back, to meditate and remember. I don’t want to ever lose that. I continue to see life differently. I became aware of so many things that I was oblivious to before my surgery. Like how people are strangely unaware and uninterested in things going on around them. It seems like people are somehow tuned-out to the natural world. It’s like they are distracted with inconsequential, useless things. I’m aware that this world is nearing its end. Fortunately, I’m not alone in that awareness. Fortunately, I’m not afraid to die.
An interesting story, almost as an affirmation to me of everything I saw, happened when a friend came to see me when I’d just gotten home. She brought me a little statue of a fairy. The fairy had two holes in its wings, decoratively, and they were right where my angel had the spot on his wing. I thought, in my still fuzzy head, ‘She bought it because it would remind me of the angel.’ Of course, she had no idea that the angel had a spot on its wing. But to me, it was as though everyone knew just what he looked like. I only told that story to my friend recently. She couldn’t believe that I hadn’t told her sooner. But I look at the fairy every morning, where it still sits, beside my bed, and it reminds me.
This is my account of what I saw and experienced. I have pondered, prayed, and wondered why I was allowed to see the things I saw. I do not know the reason. I only know that I saw something that few people are privileged to see. I share this story because it is true. My hope is that God uses it to bless others, and encourage them. There is a life beyond what we know. We learn in church that the soul is separate from the body and is eternal. That is a more concrete reality to me now than ever before, and when it’s time for me to go back to that place and beyond, I will welcome it. But in God’s unsearchable wisdom, He has me here on earth for now. I pray each morning for His strength to help me live this day well. The story of Jesus speaking with Thomas in (John 20:29) often comes to my mind ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’.