More Reflections on the Experience of God

I make my Creative Writing students create videos of their poems and add images.  A few days ago, I gave making a video with images a shot and used my blog piece Love Letter from God.  The English major inside of me is critical when I write straightforward messages like this, but my heart and soul smiles.

Poetry:  For most of my adult life, even after my NDE, I haven’t cared much for “spiritual” poetry.  Sure, I liked the occasional Rumi or Rilke poem, but I preferred poets who dug deep for their imagery, symbolism, and word play.  Poets like Adam Zagajewski, Wislawa Szymborska, Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Charles Simic, Marie Howe, Carolyn Forche, Jane Hirshfield, and Mary Oliver have been some of my inspirations.

I don’t call what I’ve written a poem—more of a love letter inspired by God and meant to give comfort to anyone hurting.  We’ve all been hurt or disappointed in life, and it is important to remember that there is much love and healing possible if we only ask.  We can pull in this love from God/our source and feel better at any time.

The Experience of God:  One of my favorite parts of my NDE was being in the presence of God.  Truly, the experience is difficult to translate into words, but I find that the more I think about that experience and wish for that communion in my life, the more often I feel divine love and protection.  The book God and the Afterlife has a section dedicated to NDErs talking about God and the experience of being in this presence.  Most NDErs state that God’s love for us is complete and deep.  This love is a love without reservation and extends itself to everyone.

When I talk about God–the most loving, divine light I have encountered– I know how I sound to agnostics because I was agnostic before my experience.  I was highly critical of religious folks and just as critical of those in spiritual/new age communities.  If I listed some of my thoughts before that accident and NDE, I would offend a lot of people and make others laugh.  My point is that NDEs change us immediately and for the rest of our lives.

If there was one book I read in college that opened my mind up ever so slightly to the possibility of God, it was The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James. Quotes like the one below one helped ease some of my judgmental nature.

 “It does not follow, because our ancestors made so many errors of fact and mixed them with their religion, that we should therefore leave off being religious at all. By being religious we establish ourselves in possession of ultimate reality at the only points at which reality is given us to guard. Our responsible concern is with our private destiny, after all.”

― William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

I also dropped my prejudices for an hour or two when discussing this book and opened my mind to ideas like,

 “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”

― William James

As an undergraduate, I imagined how this type of connection might be possible, though at the time I didn’t feel it.  I wondered if I might have a spontaneous awakening at some point in my life.  How was I to know that I would have a life-changing NDE a year after reading that book?

When I left this body and flatlined, I awakened to the spiritual realm and knew that my physical life would also be a spiritual journey.  Once grounded in my material life and professional life, I quickly realized that I would hang on to certain fears about seeming “too out there,” but I also knew there would be a time when I no longer cared and became more open about my journey.  These journeys connect us and need to be expressed.

“There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other.”

―William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

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Forgive * Love * Heal

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Update on 1/19/19:  My memoir, Angels in the OR: What Dying Taught Me About Healing, Survival, and Transformation, can be pre-ordered now. It is a #1 new release in several categories.  I would love it if you helped me make near-death experiences more mainstream.

Forgive — Love — Heal

I’m reading Dr. Rajiv Parti’s book Dying to Wake Up, and when he begins to actively heal any remaining depression, fear, addiction, or pain in his life he is given the words forgive, love, and heal.  Like Dr. Parti, I decided to write a short response to each of these words myself.  You might try this yourself as a healing writing exercise to release any negative energy and return to balance.  Dr. Parti describes negative pent up energy as “black balloons” inside the body that need to be deflated and released to attain greater health.

Forgive

Forgiveness is a letting go—all the fire, the flesh, the material angst, the passion, the wronged beating heart, and the gritted jaw are released.   Breath returns like a fall leaf gracefully descending to earth.  In spirit form, there is nothing to forgive—the chains of the flesh are shaken off, so why not forgive what is soon to be forgotten?  Why not stream away from those wounds now?  Do this for yourself—not for another.  The other might be far down a tunnel of life in his or her own dimension of space and time.  Bless that person if you can, but definitely love yourself for breaking free of…

…the anger that makes your hands shake, rage that makes you dream of saying the worst possible words or worse…

Bless yourself for becoming stronger with each disappointment, each wounding of your innocence.  Bless yourself in every moment of your suffering, but most of all board an express jet on an international flight far away from pain.  When you leave, know that you will indeed find a geographical cure except it will be a spiritual one.  And in that new, spacious place you will stare into the expanse hopefully.  When you arrive there full of possibility…

…Stay balanced.  Stay clean.  Stay pure of heart and filled with love all the live long days of your lovely life.

Love

It is acceptable to send love to the one in darkness—the one lost in the mired, toxic soup of ego, judgement, and pain.  It is suggested that you lay down your swords of delusion and embrace a garden of flowers, grounding yourself by standing in the bright green earth wet with dew.  It is permissible to love the unlovable, even if only for a moment.

It is a great idea to love the lost boys and girls you may never meet.  They are wandering the world like broken flags, like weeping doves, like cigarette butts left behind as a clue.

It is allowable to love yourself as you are—unloved or loved by many and known by only a few.  It is fine to breathe just as you are—a child still though grown into a woman or man’s body.  Love the many steps that got you here, and the ones that will carry you onward brightening the path for others.

Heal

You will see something shimmering like morning breaking through dark curtains.  You will throw open the curtains and feel intimately drawn to the sunlight rising over the forest-dense mountains in the distance.  Coffee will not be necessary because your heart will jump quantum leaps into delight and health, ready to meet the day.

That child who you once were—returned.

That dream that you once chased & lost—found.

That hope that withered in the heat—blossoms again.

A few more reflectionsForgiveness is an immediate trip and vacation away from all that causes pain.  When in spirit form during my NDE, forgiveness happened instantly as there was no more attachment to the form and familiar thought patterns.  Back in form, forgiveness is something I had to continue to practice, especially as I encountered shocking, new wounds. Forgiveness is something we all must continue to practice.  I think of those who are quick at forgiveness like ballroom dancers.  They quick step and glide with a practiced grace into a new, upbeat life.

In the afterlife, love is an experience, a birthright, an all-consuming peace.  In form, love is something we must remember and practice as well.  Like a great musician, when we learn to play love in every situation our world expands and grows more light-filled.

Healing is a topic that is precious to me and the subject of my memoir in progress.  There is healing to be found through access to the divine and the other side.  There is healing to be found in nature.  There is great healing to be found in helping others grow and succeed. There is also great healing to be found in making your own healing a priority.

forgive