Ginny RiversJune 4, 1986
I lay in the hospital sicker than I ever believed possible. I had Pneumonia. It took too much energy to even lift my head. I couldn't eat or drink. I don't even remember the food trays coming or going. My 15 year old daughter, Amber, had taken my temperature, called the doctor and literally carried me to the car, the doctors office and the hospital. She didn't even have her drivers license, yet it was she and my two younger children (Maggie, 9, and Josh, 6) who got me everywhere in one piece. I was admitted Wednesday afternoon and over the next few days, I remember being semi-awakened to some familiar face or voice on the phone only to fade back into the peace of sleep. I can't even recall seeing the nurses or my doctor. Some days after being admitted I was taken down to X-ray by wheel chair, to check on the progress of the Pneumonia. I was so weak and breathing was very difficult. My fever must have still been extremely high because there seemed to be a fog or mist clouding everything and I remember pressure in my ears. I could almost hear my heart thud-thudding not to mention the fact that I was shivering cold even under blankets.
The orderly wheeled me back to my room and I remember he asked me if it would be all right if he left me at the door. He was in a hurry and had to pick up another patient or get some papers or some errand. It was my nature to always take the course of least resistance, the other persons needs were always primary on my agenda, so I told him I would be fine. He left me just inside the door of my room, in the wheel chair. I attempted to stand and walk to the bed only to crash on the floor. I could not breathe, I was gasping for air. The bed was wavering in and out of my vision. The fog was getting thicker. There was an immense pain in my chest. I was trying to crawl to the bed on my hands and knees and I could hardly move. I remember thinking, "I'm dying, I must be dying." I was engulfed by fear. I could make out the cord to the nurses button wrapped around the side rail on the other side of my bed. I desperately struggled to reach the bed and that cord. I was screaming inside and could barely wheeze a sound out through my throat, "Please, where is everybody, I'm dying, somebody help me." No one heard me. Finally I was at the bed, pulling myself up the side and grasping for the nurses button. I think I knocked it to the floor. The next thing I remember was being on the phone, pleading with someone to get my doctor and then I was hearing his voice. I remember so clearly saying, "Doctor, please help me, I think I'm dying." The next and last conscious memory I recall was the ritually portrayed image of "White coats surrounding my bed."
There was total peace. I was surrounded on all sides by a black void. I was no longer frightened. I was comfortable and content to be where I was. No fear...no pain...just peace and comfort and amazingly undaunted curiosity. Immediately the blackness began to erupt into a myriad of stars and I felt as if I were at the center of the Universe with a complete panoramic view in all directions. The next instant I began to feel a forward surge of movement. The stars seemed to fly past me so rapidly that they formed a tunnel around me. I began to sense awareness, knowledge. The farther forward I was propelled the more knowledge I received. My mind felt like a sponge, growing and expanding in size with each addition. The knowledge came in single words and in whole idea blocks. I just seemed to be able to understand everything as it was being soaked up or absorbed. I could feel my mind expanding and absorbing and each new piece of information somehow seemed to belong. It was as if I had known already but forgotten or mislaid it, as if it were waiting here for me to pick it up on my way by. I kept growing with knowledge, evolving, expanding and thirsting for more. It was amazing, like being a child again and experiencing something brand new and beautiful, a wonderful new playground. As each second passed there was more to learn, answers to questions, meanings and definitions, philosophies and reasons, histories, mysteries and so much more, all pouring into my mind. I remember thinking, "I knew that, I know I did, where has it all been."
The stars began to change shapes before my eyes. They began to dance and deliberately draw themselves into intricate designs and colors which I had never seen before. They moved and swayed to a kind of rhythm or music with a quality and beauty I had never heard and yet...remembered. A melody, man could not possibly have composed, yet so totally familiar and in complete harmony with the very core of my being. As if it were the rhythm of my existence, the reason for my being. The extravagance of imagery and coloration pulsed in splendid unison with the magnificent ensemble.
I felt completely at peace, tranquilized by the vision and the melodic drone. I could have stayed in this place for eternity with this pulse of love and beauty throughout my soul. The love poured into me from all corners of the universes. I was still being propelled forward at what seemed great speed. Yet I was able to observe all that I passed as if I were standing still. Each passing second I was absorbing more and more knowledge. No one spoke to me, nor did I hear voices in my head. The knowledge just seemed to "BE" and with each new awareness came a familiarity.
A tiny pin point of light appeared far in front of me at the other end of my kaleidoscopic tunnel. The light grew larger and larger as I was soaring closer and closer to it, until finally I had arrived at my destination.
At once there was total and absolute awareness. There was not a question I could ask for which I did not already have the answer. I looked over to the presence I knew would be there and thought "God, it was so simple, why didn't I know that?" I could not see God as I can see you. Yet I knew it was Him. A Light, a beauty emitting from within, infinitely in all directions to touch every atom of being. The harmony of coloration, design and melody originated here with the Light. It was God, his love, his light, his very essence, the force of creation emanating to the ends of all eternity...reaching out as a pulsing beacon of love to bring me "Home."
There was a time of exchange, in one moment or one eon, complete and absolute knowing and approval of me and what I had become. In that instant or millennium I knew, he had seen my entire life and he loved me still. Pure unadulterated, unselfish, ever-loving, unconditional Love. God had seen my life and still loved me endlessly, eternally for myself, for my existence. He never spoke to me in words that I could hear with my ears, yet I heard his thoughts as clearly as words. the quality of his word, his thought, his voice in my head, was magnificent, enchanting, compelling without demand, gentle and kind and filled with more love than is possible to describe. To be in his presence was more inspiring, more inviting, than any kind of love or harmony ever discovered in this reality. No experience, no closeness has ever been so complete.
I was on what appeared to be a ledge of a huge mountain. The front side where we stood was flattened, possibly like a half butte. I stood, floated, maybe hovered by his side and I vaguely remember an alter built of golden shining light standing in front of me and slightly to the right. I was not aware or unaware of having a body, I was there and that was the most important thing I could imagine. He told me many things of which I have little or no recollection. I only remember that we spoke or rather he inspired and I learned. It seemed then that the exchange lasted for hours or eons and now it seems that eons passed in only moments. I remember only two things from that exchange. First, God told me there were only two things that we could bring back with us when we died...LOVE and KNOWLEDGE...So I was to learn as much about both as possible. Second, God told me that I had to return, I could not stay, there was something I had yet to accomplish. I remember knowing at that moment what it was, I have no recollection now.
I remember pain. Great emotional sorrow, not physical pain. I think my soul cried. I begged not to leave. I pleaded. I told him how no one would miss me. My children would be better off without me. My mother and father and brother would take better care of them than I. My heart ached as if it were physically crushed. Again he told me there was something I must accomplish and his love began to soothe my tears and sorrow. I understood and He knew from the bottom of my soul that I wanted to return to be with him as soon as I did what was to be done.
Immediately I began to recede from where he was. Not of my own volition but propelled backwards as I was forward in the beginning. I could feel the knowledge I had gained beginning to withdraw. I was forgetting. I tried desperately to remember, to keep the knowledge. I would grasp with my mind at something that was leaving and while trying to hold that memory, I would feel something else slipping away. While drifting back from God, I asked, "How will I remember what it is that I have to do? I am forgetting everything I knew." He answered, "When you have accomplished it, you will know it."
The further away I floated, flew, drifted or was pulled, the more awareness seeped away and the smaller the light became. It was as if the front top of the mountain was closing back over the butte from both sides. I watched until the light was nothing but a vertical crack from top to bottom. It looked like a brilliant strike of lightning. The rays from it were still shining out in all directions. I cried out to God, I begged, "Please, don't take the light away, leave me just a little." He queried, "What will you do with the light?" I answered, "Just look at it." He answered, "Then we will leave her just a little."
I was forced back faster and faster until there was nothing but blackness. I opened my eyes and I was back in my hospital bed with a strange but seemingly beautiful man standing over me. He said something like "Welcome back" and I lost consciousness again. The next memory was when I opened my eyes and saw my mother sitting across the room. She looked up and saw that my eyes were open and began to cry. She told me that I had been delirious for the past four or five days, I can't remember which. She said the doctors had told her they didn't think I was going to make it. Apparently I had reached my Doctor and he had called in a specialist (the man I woke to the first time) and I had been diagnosed with Viral Pneumonia. They could not find an antibiotic that was effective against the virus. My fever was apparently astronomically high.
I had two distinctly opposite reactions. I was so elated that upon waking I immediately began to relate my experience to my mother. I wanted to tell the whole world, God is real. My faith, all the things she had tried to teach me were true. Yet...I ached at having been thrown out of heaven, at not being able to stay in his light.
Everyone has a story, filled with aches and pains, trauma and undeserved penance. That is why I have chosen not to elaborate on the woe is me's of my life. We are filled to bursting each day with all the horrible things we do to each other. The media coverage on horror and inhumane atrocities are in over abundance. Human suffering is all we read or watch, murder and mayhem galore. My story now is of the love I have gained.
For several months after my experience I was in a great depression. Of course, my life prior to my experience was the cradle, and having to leave God was the blanket I covered myself with each moment of every day. I remember as a child, watching The Ten Commandments and swearing to God, as I watched the Israelites turn against God day after day, even as he performed miracle after miracle for them, that if he ever showed me that kind of proof that he existed, I would never deny him. I would believe in him no matter what ever happened. I had, upon waking in the hospital, an irrefutable undeniable knowledge that God existed and he was my father, our father and I would never forget. I looked each day for the deed I was to accomplish so that I would be able to return. I looked on this place, this life as my hell, and my salvation was in doing something for God, something I knew was vitally important to Him.
It took almost three years, one of them in therapy with the most wonderful woman I have ever met in my life, my psychologist, for me to be able to start looking at the positive things in my life. Once on this track, my life began to change for the better. No more unsuccessful relationships, no more depression and no more desperate thoughts of being "stuck" in this life. New relationships began to form, with wonderful people. I seemed to be automatically drawn to people like me. People, who had not necessarily had the same kind of experience as I, but people from whom I could glimpse another side of God with. One of those beautiful people was my, now husband, Tim. Without his love and understanding and constant encouragement, the path of spiritual evolution which I am now attempting to travel, may have been diverted or postponed. He has shown me new insights into God and love that I needed very much to learn. New knowledge had come to fill the empty spaces which the experience had created in my mind. With each new piece of information I can almost feel my mind and soul expanding. There is a taste of familiarity to it...as if I knew it once and somehow it was forgotten or misplaced!
Before my experience, I believed "God is everywhere" now I know, "God is everything." I have an unquenchable thirst for spiritual knowledge and sustenance. I have learned new depths of true unselfish love and godly forgiveness. I cry for my fathers pain when I see the abominations and injustices we, Man, pour upon each other. I was able for a moment in eternity to look upon the face of God and feel his heart, his soul as part of me, to share his love for all his creations, all of his children, and his wish that we share this love with each other.
I do know he is so all loving and all forgiving, that he does not care how long it takes us to learn the lessons we have set out to learn. He knows that in the end we will all come back to him. There is no Hell, except that which we each create for ourselves. That our every thought has the power to destroy that which surrounds us and in mass, the negativity we create with one callous idea, can cloud our very existence. It can bring about wars and sickness. That it is vital that we learn to think with love and generosity. If each one of us each day would think one loving thought, our world, our reality would brighten with a bit more of Gods light. Each time we think and do goodness and love it comes back to us tenfold, and many times from the least expected direction. Love is the strongest antidote. It cures, comforts, forgives and blesses. If we use it lavishly towards each other, towards the Earth and the Universe, it can lift us higher than anything man could ever think of inventing.
Make no mistake. When we pass from here, Hell will be waiting for us if that is what we believe, as it is with Heaven. Each of us has his own faith and belief. What each of us believes we deserve, we will bring upon ourselves. It is now that we must learn to love ourselves, care for ourselves and give ourselves all that is good. If not now, then when we do pass we will make ourselves suffer because of the painful emotional baggage we will carry with us. I have learned that there is great love on the other side to surround us and comfort us and to help us on our way.
That love is so immensely forgiving and will comfort us through our self-condemnation. Knowing that we each are God's children and we each have our own lessons to learn and our own purposes towards learning those lessons has helped me in most cases to forgive my self for the poor or misguided decisions I have made during my lifetime. I have learned and desperately try not to judge others. It still happens no matter how I try and I cringe each time that I think ill of someone else. Even the most trivial judgment such as, "Oh my, who dressed that woman, there's a couch somewhere without a cover," will cause me great pain when I pass in review of the pain I might have caused because of that judgmental statement. In the instant of knowing that God had viewed my life, I was not judged. I was loved, I was made beautiful to myself before God. How dare I judge another of Gods own children for being what he or she was meant to be. The inner pain I will suffer, both for judging and as if being the one judged. Judge not...lest ye be judged; Do unto others as ye would have others do unto you...
Just some notes: I do not believe I was ever pronounced dead. Upon speaking about this to my doctor, his only contribution was "Oh yes, you were one very very sick young lady." I never did visualize my body in the hospital room. I did not view my life in any panoramic or chronological order. I did however, have an instant knowing that my life had been viewed by God and in that same instant the knowledge of his approval and infinite love. I do not recall at any time noticing whether or not I was in physical form. God was pure light.
Two hours after I woke, when my mother had gone, a man for whom I had very great feelings but I feared was lost and unreachable walked into my hospital room with two giant balloons and a rose. He said he just couldn't let me lie there in the hospital without letting me know that I was his best friend and he wouldn't know what to do if anything ever happened to me. (I remember looking up and saying, "Quick work, Father.") I'm not by any means perfect nor do I think I'll get there in this lifetime. Nor do I profess that my beliefs are right for everyone. I do know my life has changed. I am no longer depressed because I do know that God has not shunned me by sending me back. He has given me a task. Recently I have felt that I can almost remember what it is that I must accomplish. Perhaps I am close to it, or perhaps it is just that I must choose a direction which will bring me closer. I do not know. My mother is very ill and she and my father live with my family and I. Perhaps she is the reason I was sent back. I do not know. I do know that God answers my prayers on a regular basis and I am privileged enough or maybe wise enough to recognize His work. Maybe the little bit of light he let me keep.
Until just recently, I was afraid to contact my doctor again to ask him any questions relating to my condition at the time. My experience was valid and true for me but I had only shared it with my family and a few very close friends and I suppose I feared that my doctor would somehow invalidate my story. It wasn't until I actually was able to put everything down on paper that I realized it didn't matter. Some would believe me and some would not. I have tried, over the last 8 years, hundreds of times to write this down. There is something so awkward about writing this down. I could never find the "Right" words to express what I had seen and felt. I stuttered and stammered, always grasping for the elusive description. The words I have chosen seem so commonplace and mundane. It has been so difficult to make others understand what I have seen. It is next to impossible to describe the beauty, delicacy, strength and vibrancy of the experience. I cannot imagine that there will ever be a language of the mouth, adequate enough to absolutely describe the visions of the soul.
I wanted to leave this as a legacy to my children, especially my son Joshua. He was only 6 when I had the Viral Pneumonia and he has been terrified ever since that I was going to die every time I got the sniffles. The girls, Amber and Maggie, have had their doubts and fears as well but were more ready to listen and believe. All of my children have had their problems. My whole family has had its share of tests over the years and there may be more to come. My faith is as strong now as it was then.
Not until 3 months ago when a friend of mine passed away, was I able to put adequate enough words down on paper. I felt that her family might gain some comfort in her passing if they knew without a doubt that she was indeed going on to a better place. My letter was accepted graciously and was not commented on. I don't really know if it helped. I have learned that my truth is not everyone else's truth. I have come to realize that we are all at different stages of spiritual growth and some of us are just not ready at this point in their spiritual development to accept proof of God. After all, who am I. I am not a prophet. If men like Jesus and Moses and the apostles could not convince man that God is real then it is a job well beyond my talents. Some of us just cannot, no matter how many miracles he shows us, accept something we cannot see. There will always be nay-sayers. Just by writing this down and showing to others is not proof that God is everything, to everybody. For me, my faith will never fade or fail. I was there. I saw God. I heard God and was shown more love and caring for each of us, individually, uniquely and as a whole than is possible to comprehend. We are his children, each of us, not only as few of us. I only wish that by sharing this, I could help one person see through my souls' eyes to the Father who guides and waits for us all. We are here, each of us learning in our own way, to find our way back Home.
Virginia (Ginny) Rivers