This is the number one experience of my life, my divine and mystical encounter with the Blessed Beauty.

One day in the spring of 2001, I was asleep around 8:15 a.m. I came to full conscious awareness to find myself wandering from a verdant garden into a large area enclosed in white fabric. Light filtered through every part of the ceiling and walls. I sat down at a table and tried to peer over roses piled so wide and high that I could not see around or over them to the far side of the enclosure. I thought, “Oh, I must be at a wedding!” There was an excited and expectant buzz in the air. An elaborate silver tea setting occupied the table in front of me. I sensed that someone important was at the other end of the enclosure, but I could not see who it was. There were many people dressed all in white seated and walking around.

I realized that my body was asleep, and I was having an out of body experience. It felt as real as being awake. The sensations, sounds and colors were more vivid than any waking moment.

Someone approached and engaged me with a smile. It slowly dawned on me that she was not completely human. She gave off a distinct air of amused detachment, which was to become familiar to me from several other such experiences.

The glowing being was not completely solid, as if she occupied more than one dimension. She was a full 7 feet tall, thin and willowy, and had a cropped cap of something on her head, which gave the impression of feathers. She had no visible wings, but she was bird-like, and an essence of flight wafted over me. She mentally expressed amusement as I thought to myself, “That must be why people always describe wings when they encounter an angel.”

She addressed me by sending thoughts directly into my head that it was time for me to meet what felt to my mind like “The Groom.” I looked down to see that I was now clothed in a beautiful white dress. I became confused and thought, “Am I a bride?” I did not understand where I was or what was happening. A short time passed in this state of confusion as the angel patiently waited.

The scene jumped and I became lucid once again as the angel and I floated together down a stone path. She inquired whether I felt “prepared to meet (The Groom).” There was much to this as I examined myself in some deep spiritual manner I can’t describe. I understood this was something I was being allowed, and that I could refuse. I knew I would never refuse.

As we came to a grove of trees, I could hear and smell flowing water. I had no sense of time passing, but the darkness deepened, and I came to see that I was alone. I rounded and approached a large, branched-out tree from the water side. I raised my gaze and peered between the leaves. Suddenly I was utterly caught and frozen in place by two intensely black soul-piercing eyes, staring from the depths of leafy darkness.

Emotions of a strength, width and depth I had never experienced overwhelmed me, and I threw myself down onto the sand. A great deal of time and no time at all passed as I willed the essence of my being down and down, beneath the molecules of sand, with a clarity of understanding that I was less worthy than the dirt under my feet to approach this marvelous Divine Being. He was seated on a familiar blue painted bench cradled against the broad trunk of the tree. As I was pulled closer, I was taken aback by how small and how short He was in actual height.

I had no will. I was now in His grasp, and His overwhelming and powerful Essence commanded me forward.

The essence of my true self, unencumbered by earthly physicality, flowed like water under the sand toward Him. I became aware of an unearthly sound and realized that it was me, wailing out loudly from the depths of my soul all of the considerable distress, pain, and anguish that I had experienced in my time on earth. I reached forward in desperate need and grasped with both my hands a small foot covered with an embroidered slipper.

No words were exchanged, no questions were asked or answered as I always imagined an Encounter such as this might hold, and yet, everything was asked and answered! I wailed out all my pain, despair and confusion over the life I had been given. All of my expression was calmly accepted, and I was soothed with a simple caress upon my head. I was given to understand that I myself had chosen this particular life and all that would happen within it for reasons far deeper than can be expressed here.

His touch spoke volumes that cannot be contained in human writing. My eternal being reverberated with His thoughts to my mind: “Nothing... nothing upon this earth holds any real meaning for your soul... the lovers, the parents, the friends... the children... these earthly events... none truly matters! All that matters for you is My [God's] Essence!"

The reality of this majestic Entity was more than I could contain, and I knew even the expanse of our universe was too limited to contain Him. I understood that His True Essence would be forever unreachable... Unknowable.

At that moment I woke to find tears streaming down my face.

Over the years I came to understand that I was given the dream at that moment so I could hold fast to it. And I did, often desperately, as the tests and trials of the preceding and following years brought my family to the brink of utter despair. After this experience, our family suffered a terrible, terrible loss.

Five years later I learned for the first time that Bahá'u'lláh, the Blessed Beauty, was but five feet tall, and wore the kind of slippers I had grasped in my two hands. I viewed a photograph of Him, and knew the experience to be of Him and to be very real and true. I read in "The Story of Bahá'u'lláh" the detailed account of historical events that took place in the Spring of 1863 in Baghdad, in the Ridvan Garden on an island in the Tigris River.

Years later, after I had experienced something called Inner Spirit Therapy, I came to understand that the dream was a memory of the night I made my Declaration as a Bahá'í when I was 21 years old. I was led to the idea that my spirit, and the spirit of every newly-declared believer, was present in the great tent when Bahá'u'lláh made His public Declaration. This makes perfect sense to me, and why not? `Abdu'l-Bahá says that our spirits can wander out of time and place as we sleep. The book described how the believers gathered each morning in Bahá'u'lláh's tent where, “in the center, freshly picked roses were heaped so high that the friends could not see one another over the mound. The fragrance sweetened their morning tea....”

An additional note about my experience: On the night I made my Declaration as described above, I fell asleep around 12:30 a.m. lying flat on my stomach, both arms stretched up and over my head, cradling my pillow. I didn't wake up or move an inch for 8 hours. When I woke up, it was very difficult to sit up on the side of my bed - my arms were asleep - completely dead, with no sensation at all, and I was unable to move either arm for about 5 minutes. I had a now-familiar sensation - as if I had been "not there." Usually, I retain a sense of myself during sleep - a normal sense of continuing to exist. On that night my sense of continuing to exist in my body, the memory of continuity of self, disappeared for 8 hours. It would be many years before I felt that sensation again, and it happened during my first major surgery under anesthesia -- the knowledge and memory of "being" before the surgery, and then "not being" while under anesthesia, and then "being" again when I woke up afterward. It also happened during my true NDE in 2002.