suggestions, questions, and answers to:
into the Box...
into the Box... An interesting thing happens when you do your best
to forget about having an NDE. It's like living with an annoying
cat that you inherited from a family member that spends 90% of its
time outside, but doesn't really go away. Every time you think you
have moved on, you discover a tattered piece of carpet, or claw
marks on the stereo speakers, and you are reminded that it is there…still
lurking…waiting for you to come home again.
career, politics, marriage, raising kids, having grandkids…all wonderful
highlights of the years since "my dance on the other side." However,
death, science, and a seemingly unending succession of news from
friends and relatives fighting various forms of cancer, finally
conspired in a manner that brought me running to "the box" that
I had neatly placed on the back shelf of my consciousness.
started with the news of a dear friend, and her husband's recurring
battle with a brain tumor. Then news of the sudden death of two
High School friends, followed by my Mother's bout with breast cancer,
and a recurrence of prostate related cancer with my father. The
nagging, quiet pounding of ambiguity began.
I was upset, and afraid of the loss of my friends and family, I
knew innately that this life was far from "all there was" to our
existence. While the fear of losing those close to me was becoming
palpable, the knowledge that you never really completely lose those
you love, was both a comfort and an annoyance.
watching almost all of them struggle with questions of religion,
and spirituality in their times of need, while knowing that there
was far more to the equation than simply asking a favor from a "kindly
old man in heaven," added to my discomfort. Having been shown that
traditional religion was far too limiting, and yet knowing that
the complete answers were almost too complex to give comfort, I
found myself resolved to silence.
silence came not only from conflict between traditional rhetoric
and fundamental practice of traditional religion, but my inability
to communicate a broader context of reality, in language that bridged
December of 2009, the box began screaming to be opened.
almost 4 years of good news of clean MRIs, and other tests indicating
that his treatments were working, the four-line email that my dear
friend's husband had lost his battle with cancer showed up in the
"in box" of my Gmail account. Within days, she had contacted me,
to ask if I would sing at his graveside service, and to let me know
that she had something to tell me, that only I would understand.
first part of the news was difficult enough, as her husband was
one of the nicest, most gentle, well-loved guys you could ever know.
And yet, I had no idea what would be appropriate at his celebration.
She suggested Vince Gill's "Go Rest High On the Mountain."
is a beautiful song, Gill had written at the passing of his brother.
However, at only two verses, without a fiddle, or another instrument
to stretch with a solo, it felt too short, and almost irreverent
at such an important event. So, I asked Patti if she would mind
if I wrote an extra verse. She said, to "do whatever you want, I
of her long-standing Catholic upbringing, as well as the Mormon
lineage in her husband's family, writing something with a traditional
religious flavor seemed more than appropriate, in fact necessary.
opened my heart…pictured Mike, and wrote the additional verse in
a couple of minutes…knowing that I was doing little more than transcribing
what was given to me.
"Oh Lord we ask you for your mercy.
And, we ask you to sooth our pain.
And we thank You, for the life you gave us,
to know we'll be with you again…"
is was, two short lines of a final verse…that basically defied almost
everything that I had learned in my NDE. And yet…it felt right.
In fact, as I sang them rehearsing the song to a point of rote performance,
where I knew I could sing without weeping at the service, they gave
And, I wondered "why?"
How could simple words, so close to those one would find in an evangelical
church service, bring comfort to someone who clearly no longer believed
in the mythology of traditional religion? How could a song, rife
with visions of angels, and walking in heaven, allow me to feel
strength and solace, and even joy, at singing?
The service, the song, and the day went off as planned, with as
much grace, sorrow, loss and comfort as one can expect from such
a sad occasion. Old friends reunited for a post-service gathering.
Memories were shared, and love filled every soul.
As I was getting ready to leave, Patti asked me to go outside for
a moment. Once outside, she thanked me for singing, and then told
me that she had almost called me on the day of Mike's death. She
then went on to tell me that Mike, before he had passed, had promised
to try and send some sort of signal to her from the other side.
As Mike was a fan of all things abnormal and paranormal, she was
neither surprised nor taken back by the statement.
However, as Patti relates the story, at the exact moment of Mike's
passing, with a room full of his closest friends and family at his
side, two clocks in the room, suddenly began spinning forward, wildly.
Everyone made note, and then moved through the range of emotions
that would follow such a combined event. Asking the charge nurse
if anything had gone askew with the hospital clock system, brought
nothing but blank stares, and denial of anything "going wrong."
Patti was understandably excited, and perplexed.
It was at that point, that the box rattled off of the shelf, the
lid splayed on the floor, and I vowed to stop hiding from the knowledge
that had been shared with me years prior. I assured her that what
she had told me was both exciting, and amazing. And also, that Mike's
love had obviously transcended traditional space/time to let her
know there was indeed more than the suffering they had all experienced
here on earth. And that while I didn't understand it, that I wanted
her to know that I was open to talk about it if she chose.
like trying to get that rogue cat back in to a travel carrier only
brings about more chaos, confusion and scratches as it reminds you
are no longer in control, the accelerated series of events that
transpired over the course of the next few years, has been wild,
terrifying, awe-inspiring and a constant challenge.
death, some protracted, and some sudden, as well as more challenges
from the traditional bastions of religion, and an amazing series
of "coincidental" events and multimedia discoveries, have all conspired
to firmly and finally destroy the lid to the box altogether. I have
finally realized that my strange gift of being able to distill complex
ideas down to communicable forms--even using traditional "God Speech"
when needed--is indeed something that needs to be used to its fullest
now, looking back, on the original
NDE piece I wrote, keeping this amazing experience in a box,
was in fact breaking the "Third Commandment" of the basic commandments
I learned from my experience; "Use all of your talents to their
fullest capacity. Not doing so is to defile your very existence."
here, my dear reader, fellow sojourner, believer or skeptic, I state
clearly: I will continue the journey, the exploration, and discovery,
as long as I am graced to take breath in this life. I know clearly
there is "MORE" than traditional religion or traditional science
would have us accept as "the end all, be all" of understanding our
time to get to work…because there is much more, beyond God and Science...