Thursday, December 22, 2011

Between Life and Death

I have been waiting for just the right time to share something special with my readers, and I guess the  Christmas season is as good a time as any.

Hieronymus Bosch, "The Ascent of the Blessed", 1490
I have a friend from New York City, a Jewish woman about my age, that I first met through my wife's family six years ago at a family wedding in Phoenix.  Her name is Judy, and she is smart, witty, and generous.  She had been, by her own account, a non-religious, cultural Jew most of her life.

So, it was a little surprising that, within a very short time of meeting her, she shared with me an experience that she had had about 18 months earlier.  It probably helped that she knew I was a Methodist pastor.

The account following is what she told me at that time (written up later by her at my request, exactly as you read it). This is the first time this has been published anywhere, and I do so with Judy's permission.
On May 20, 2004 in Los Angeles, I had a Near-Death Experience.

I just had taken an anti-hypertensive medication which I had not tried before and, instantly, I started having breathing problems.

I said to Harry, "I think I'll lie down," and I stretched out on the floor. I am not given to napping on the floor.

Predictably, he called 9-11.

I heard the sirens coming closer and I was relieved.

As soon as the EMTs walking into the condo, I said, "I need oxygen."

They put a mask on me and took my vital signs. Vital signs? I had none!

Harry was hysterical. He asked that they take me to UCLA Medical Center, which is where his mother's doctors were. I heard every word clearly.

Yet UCLA was about 3 miles from his condo, in Brentwood in West LA.

They explained that, when a patient was as sick as I was, they legally were required to go to the nearest hospital. In this case, that was St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, about 2 miles away.

Then they said to Harry, attempting to comfort him, I think, "Don't worry, mister, they're just going to declare her DOA."

He did not find this comforting.

We raced to the hospital, siren blaring, and the techs were on cell phones with the ER trauma team.

When we drove into the ambulance bay, the whole team raced out to meet me.

I was rushed into the ER and hooked to many different IVs, in my arms, wrists, ankles.

I was watching everything, in no pain, from above.

I could hear everything.

I was calm.

It was exactly the way the movies show near-death scenes and I was wondering how those writers had known how to describe the experience so accurately and with such detail.

I was in the tunnel, yes, the tunnel they always show in those scenes.

I was being drawn, effortlessly and with no control, toward the light, almost as if a super-magnet were moving me along the path.

People always mention that "light," but it was more of a phosphorescent glow. I am very precise about language. And it was irresistible, literally: I wanted to reach it.

The tunnel was long, however, and I only got about halfway toward the light when I had a conversation.

This was a conversation without words. I would have to describe it as telepathic. I was speaking with a Higher Authority. For lack of more precise definition, I would term that Authority to be God.

I said -- telepathically -- that I wanted to go forward.

And the Higher Authority said that it was not my time, that we human beings deluded ourselves in thinking that we had control of our own lives, but that none of us determined our own destinies.

He told me that we all eventually will go to the same final destination, but we will take different paths to get there and that we do not control the route.

I said that I wanted to see my father, my uncles. I said that I wanted to meet Jesus. (This detail drives my Jewish friends crazy and my Christian friends always are surprised when I tell them this.)

Yet, again, the Authority let me know that it was not my time.

Immediately, there was a huge shout, and the medical team said, "She's back."

I returned to life with no physical effects of the experience.

I had been flatlined for about 20 minutes.

They expected me to have heart damage, brain damage. They put me into Intensive Care for four days to monitor me, and they did not know what to make of me.

I was clear from the moment I came back as to the day, the place, the name of the President.

Eventually, they released me after making me promise that I would be vigilant if I showed any symptoms.

I never have had a sympton relating to the NDE, but not a day has gone by when I did not wonder exactly why I had been sent back to this plane, this dimension, that we call "life."

By now, I've read explanations that so many people who have NDEs have similar experiences because the experience has been suggested by scenes in movies. Another explanation is that this is a delusion of a dying brain -- except that my brain, Thank God, did not die.

I have no personal theories. I simply wonder....
Judy has since come down with serious, life-threatening cancer, for which she is receiving intensive chemotherapy in NYC. She has had several more experiences of a similar nature, which I will share in the future. Her positive spirit and, dare I say it, 'faith', is an inspiration to us all.

Update (12/11/2012):  Judy passed away after a long and courageous battle against cancer on December 7, 2012.  She has, I assume, now completed her journey down that long tunnel....


  1. Just came across this (,Me to) telepathically yes that's exactly what its like . That "light," but it was more of a phosphorescent glow. in the tunnel, I described it like a searchlight in the night sky which I sped along.the Authority let me know that it was not my time that's exactly what i was told.
    I reached the end of the light, lovely embarkation place people with solid body's also mingling with spirit personages its the spirit beings that communicated with me, an the Lady s quite right it seemed telepathically.
    The feeling of total happiness while there you never want to leave its greater happiness than is possible on this earth an like Judy I simply wonder....

    1. Thank you, Tony....just curious, what was the situation in which your out-of-body-experience occurred?

    2. Hi Carl I had a heart attack while i was asleep,felt like a cannonball exploded in my chest,I was smoking an drinking an doing a very heavy manual job, mortgage to pay wife an 8 year old son to provide for ,Id left underground mining in the clay industry an had taken a job as a gardener on a terraced cliff garden overlooking the sea,I was none religious,I followed a path of light it was like a searchlight on a misty night as you see in wartime films, I was instantly from here to there in a second, large well lit area indoors, people moving about there business taking no notice of me some had body's like us some looked like us but were spirit beings they seemed to mix with no problems, as the lady says i was told "its not your time"by a spirit it seemed telepathic communication ,I was asked where id left my body an told it had to be in bed an to go back an make sure it was, i didn't want to leave i was so happy so contented ,I returned along the lit path just as fast as id arrived ,sat up in bed an tried to return it was impossible to leave my body , next day I went to the GP he said id had heart attack an sent me to hospital they confirmed some damage to my heart I ended up having a coronary bypass which blocked up three months later, I gave up smoking an drinking and work unfortunately an nursed my wife until she died in my arms at home she had cancer ,just before she died she she said "you know everything tell me whats all this about God an Jesus" I realized I knew very little I told her if you beleave in God an beleave Jesus is his son an he died for you youll be saved,I felt so stupid an ignorant ,she just said"ohh" an a short time later passed away, it took a year I woke one day an thought the suns shining an life began again I spoke to a C of E vicar I was friendly with he gave me there view on the matter .The Mormon missionary's came knocking they told me what I had learned when I was wherever it was ,I also asked a few questions from the experience an they went an found out about it from there mission leader, came back an answered my questions that was a surprise as I hadn't given them any information just questions , my C of E Vicar friend told me his Church knew about it ,recorded such accounts but had no comment to make either way.Some things I told the Mormon Missionary they disagreed with me but as they taught me there believes they discovered what Id said was true (they were young men about 20 years of age they knew a lot but had much to learn bless them) one thing Judy said "He told me that we all eventually will go to the same final destination, but we will take different paths to get there and that we do not control the route"
      I'm a devote Mormon I love my church with all its human failings, man runs the church for God an we sure aren't perfect Joseph smith was a good man trying hard but a long way off perfect but what prophet in the old testament was perfect ,Noah ended up with vineyards an took to the drink in his old age.Moses had his problems an couldn't go to the promised land I could go on its why Jesus died for our sins human fragility, I ponder on my weaknesses I'm amazed I still sin so much that I'm so weak when I know better, one day at a time,I have learn't at 67 not to judge anyone for anything ,there but for the grace of God go I.

    3. Tony, thanks for taking the time to share your experience. Pretty amazing, I'd say! I first ran heard an account like that from someone I respected about 35 years ago when I was attending seminary. It--along with some other things I was pondering--led to me believe that we are spirit inhabiting bodies, and when we die, our spirits are freed to return to where they came from. I've thought that ever since, so it's always good to hear stories like yours.

      As for Mormonism, I too try to be accepting of other religions, so part of me admires Mormons very much. However, whenever I read about Prophet Joe, something in me doesn't like what I read, especially concerning his relationship to women, along with a number of other things. It seems when I read his history, that things got worse as he went along, such that the Nauvoo period was the very worst. So I think the more Mormons stress the basic biblical themes, and stay away from the later speculations, the better. Anyway, that's where I am now.

      Again, the best to you.


    4. I as a Mormon have been taught an accept that we were all in the spirit world/heaven heavenly father created spiritual body's an placed us as intelligences in them (the intelligences always existed an always will exist) Lucifer and a third of the spirit children disagreed with fathers plan of free agency and redemption and how wed earn our body's, an were cast down to earth in there spirit form , unknown to them they became part of fathers plan an were to tempt his remaining children who were placed in mortal body's combining spirit an the body together with no memory of the premortal existence, when Judy, an I agreed said it was like telepathic communication its correct that's how Lucifer an his dark angels influence us spirit to spirit, we are tested ,we are here to learn to overcome these promptings ,we know right from wrong so that's an advantage, that's why were taught we must overcome an what that means,the times we fail if we truly repent of them are covered by Christs atonement. this is just a small part of it without going into what you term Mormon speculation which is a vast amount of information.

    5. Yes, and I'm not opposed to such speculation, as long as the church is open and honest about it.

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