I was visiting the Greek island of Tinos in September 2021 to recharge and scout potential retirement villas after a volunteer mission on another island at an underserved elementary school in a small village.
I had taken a break from scooting about the island checking out neighborhoods and towns to wander a lightly populated beach with a restaurant at the far end. I changed into my suit, wandered down the beach, and had a wonderful lunch of wine and moussaka. On the way back to my scooter, I set my pack on the beach and took off my shirt and shoes to take a swim. I dropped my things on an isolated stretch of sand, a fair distance from one of the few other people around, a woman who had not moved from laying on her belly facing away from the water the whole time I had been at the beach, and slowly waded out.
The ground beneath the water disappeared quickly in the u-shaped cove and while I could still see it as I swam, I knew it was getting far beneath me. I swam straight out, pausing only a little to take in the beauty that is characteristic of Greek islands. The water was still warm, and it occurred to me how nice it would be to just keep swimming straight out forever. So I did keep swimming. The September wind howled overhead, but I hardly noticed it as I swam.
After a while I noticed another swimmer. A young man had appeared from the beach on my right, easily out pacing me. He swam past me by thirty or forty yards, then cut in front of me where he started treading water and watching me. At that I turned back toward the beach, and the woman that had not moved all afternoon was sitting up and starting out at us. I then realized how far back the beach was, and I noticed that the wind that had threatened to blow me off my scooter earlier in the day had really kicked up and was literally blowing me out to sea.
I looked down to see if I could find the bottom of the ocean beneath the surface and it was so far down as to be but a shadow. I knew I had swum too far out. I also then knew, somehow, that young man was watching out for me, the old, out of shape guy who had swum out too far, and that the woman was watching both of us. But still I felt myself sinking, and I thought: “this is it.”
I looked up in that moment and saw that Heaven had opened for me through the clouds up in the sky. White light poured downward, my parents and grandparents and other family were gathered and extending out-sized heavenly arms to greet me, and a chorus of angels sang above me. I could feel the love gushing out and down to me and it was wonderful! It was so good! I could almost feel them lifting me up.
But then a couple of things happened. One was a clear vision of my daughter sitting on the floor, her knees to her chest, her head resting on her knees, crying because I was gone. Another was a vision of my wife's, “Oh my God,” upon hearing of my death. The last was a sense of knowing how bad I would feel in Heaven if that young man treading water over there died trying to help this old man.
“Then you’d better start swimming a little harder,” came a voice in my head. And so I did. I turned away from Heaven, and I started swimming, with strength that came from I don’t know where. I spat water and swam. I kicked and overcame the wind. I looked over my shoulder and saw the young man starting to swim after me. I was glad he was going to be okay.
I walked up on the beach as normally as I could, though I could hear the young man come out after me and start talking with the woman who was gesturing towards me. I ignored them, picked up my things and walked back to the scooter. I rode back to town and hit the hotel for some time to process.
In the end, I left the island the next day, and caught an earlier flight home. I simply didn’t want to be away from my girls anymore, even if I was on a beach in Greece.
I’ve now had three NDEs. The first was the result of a violent assault when I was a boy. Technically, the first is where I was choked unconscious and most likely fulfills the criteria for an NDE of being dead, going to Heaven, meeting everyone, seeing the life review, seeing some things to come, and definitely not wanting to come back. I especially did not need to see the relief on my attackers' faces that they had revived me, and while the attack was over, the horrors of the recovery were, of course, just beginning.
The second NDE occurred during what I thought were lucid moments in the emergency room when I was being checked for a possible stroke at 48, and my blood pressure was hitting 185 over something. While I lay on the table, hooked up to God knows what all, I separated from my body and all the nurses and doctors, and I sat above myself for a few minutes. Then two gentlemen in suits opened a door in the air above me, and a little in front of me, and gestured for me to go through. From this door came the most Heavenly light and good feeling. The gentlemen were most kind and proper, and I think this was to convey propriety and respect, both of which I would respond to.
We communicated through thoughts, and they offered for me to go through the door with them to Heaven. I trusted them implicitly but knew my wife and daughter had been notified and were on their way. All I wanted was to say good-bye to them before I left, and I told the gentlemen this with my thoughts. They tipped their heads politely, then turned, went back through the door, and shut it behind them. Then I was no longer sitting above myself but was back on the table in the ER.
“Jane,” I said to the ER nurse next to me, “they wanted to take me to Heaven, but I said not until I say good-bye to my girls.”
“You tell them you are NOT going to Heaven!” she said, almost shouting. “You are staying here!”
“It’s okay,” I reassured her, “they already left and shut the door. They are gone.” And that was that. I left the ER shortly thereafter, and the hospital a week later without further Heavenly incident.
Despite having three such different Heavenly experiences, I feel there are remarkable consistencies.
The white light is a constant feature of Heaven. Its brilliance cannot be overstated, as it shines as though every star in the sky were gathered in one place, and then their shine was magnified by a million times. The most interesting part of it, though, is not that it is white as much as it is every color all put together. In the way the colors of the rainbow make the bright sunlight, all the colors put together make the white light of Heaven. These colors of Heaven all appear pearlescent, like the inside of an oyster shell, but incredibly brilliant. This brilliance is not to say that it hurts your eyes, because it doesn’t, but that’s because you aren’t using your human eyes to see things in Heaven. You are absorbing the light, and the whole experience for that matter, with your spiritual senses, not your physical ones.
The white light also permeates everything. It flows through your spiritual self and every other spiritual self around you up there. It pulsates, and it is only after you concentrate on the light for a while that you realize it is a manifestation of pure love. It is effectively a form of the energy created by pure love, and it vibrates at a much higher level than we typically enjoy here on Earth.
The music is the next commonality. It’s not really music. But it’s not NOT music. It seems to be the result of energy vibrating at very high frequencies. It feels like music, but that’s the key: how it feels. You don’t have physical hearing in that realm, but you sense things still the same. You sense them differently is all. The music is the result of Heavenly bodies meditating, praying, just being “one” with the Lord, with the result that a vibration is created at the very high frequency that is pure love. Since it is a vibration, it flows through everything and everyone. If this sounds like a similar description to the white light, that is correct, and the music is related to the same concept of pure love as the light.
Another consistency is that loved ones gather to welcome you to Heaven. The roles of father, mother, siblings, grandparents, etcetera, have particular and defined spiritual relationships to each other for your growth in each life, and therefore are important to each person arriving in Heaven. Of most importance are the ones that related to early life and death, especially the mother, and she is usually the most instrumental in welcoming you to Heaven. This obviously does not work if your mother is still alive.
In my first NDE where I was a small boy, my parents were still alive and I was met first by a kindly lady. But I was very afraid of her and soon a nicely dressed man came up and basically offered to relieve the lady. She seemed upset not to be able to escort me, but the gentleman assured her it would be alright, and he is the one who took me on my tour of Heaven, including the life review and previews of things to come. I do not, to this day, know who either of these two people were.
But in the most recent one in Greece there is no doubt that my parents were welcoming me from the Aegean Sea with all the love in Heaven, and there were dozens of family members behind them. As part of the introduction to Heaven, had I not swum back to shore, there would have been another life review which would have oriented me to the reason each person occupied the role in my life that they did, such as father, mother, sister, aunt, or uncle.
Lots of people have described a tunnel. It’s not a tunnel, per se, unless you are dying quickly. Then it’s a white tunnel through which one travels very quickly towards an even brighter white light, which is our Lord. Then one arrives at the proverbial Heavenly Gate (it’s not a gate, it’s just an opening, but whoever coined this description definitely had an NDE) rather quickly.
But if one is dying slowly, one gets the chance to experience the white tunnel more slowly. And then one might discover that instead of white light, all the pearlescent colors that make up a rainbow become clear, and that its these colors that together make up white light. It’s much like the inside of an oyster shell.
And if one is dying more slowly, one might find that instead of a tunnel that it’s a grand staircase, twirling round like something from “Gone With the Wind,” but almost never ending, with someone you have loved or who has loved you beside you on every step. If you slow down, and take the time, you can see everybody and you can connect with anybody you choose. You can see them for all that they were in life, including what made them what they were, and you can share with them what made you what you were. This allows both of you to see all sides of each other, and truly understand why you each did the things you did. This further allows each of you to forgive any wrongs and love each other in a way nothing else could.
As you progress up each stair, you are bathed in the white light of the Lord, and you respond in kind intuitively with your own white light, as naturally as you breathed on Earth. The Lord guides you up each step and you cannot refuse, but you do not want to. In fact, you may wonder briefly why you ever stayed so long on earth.
As you climb, the souls you meet will remind you of the good you did while on earth. They will be the ones you helped, the ones you reached out to. Some will have chosen to be there just to thank you. Others will have chosen to be there for you, to hold space for you. You are grateful, and loving, and you understand that love is all around you, that you are, even, love, in that moment.
The atmosphere is filled with the music of the surrounding white light, which is to say the sound of the higher vibrations of energy given off by all the beings around you. You understand an angels’ chorus is less about singing and more about their vibrations at a level so high above that which humans can sense that you have to be in the Heavenly Realm to be able to hear it. It is wonderful, all-healing music that flows through your body effortlessly.
You become aware that as you climb, you are leaving your physical life further and further behind. You may have the choice of continuing. You may not. You may be halted at a level. Remember that if you are seeing the stairway, you are probably dying slowly, and you may be being shown your path, and how far along you are on your path towards Heaven, but you may also be returned to your life. Perhaps you get to return to the staircase days, weeks or months later and find that you are climbing to a higher stair, a level closer to Heaven.
In my case, I was given the choice to go on, but I was stopped by fear. My fear was of the finality of death, and the resultant permanent loss of physical sensation that would come with it. I would no longer be able to hug my loved ones, in particular, and I dearly love to hug them. I would no longer be able to see in their eyes that I comfort them by my presence. I would no longer be able to do things to help them.
I feel a bit bad about this, as one of the messages I received during this time was that I had important work to do on that side, so I was being quite selfish by choosing to stay on this side. I rationalize this by saying I stayed in this world out of love, but they, and I, know better.
I also understand that one day I will not be allowed to choose; that I will simply continue to climb the stairs without stopping, or to ascend so quickly that the staircase blurs into a tunnel. Until that time, I intend to learn how to love better, to cleanse myself physically and spiritually to prepare for the day when I do not get to choose.
Since returning I have also come to better understand what I now refer to as “the human condition.” The human condition is that which allows porn and gambling to rule the internet instead of charity. It is what makes us reach for the bottle of wine instead of the cup of green tea. It’s when we know better, but do bad things anyway, and it is because of weakness or frailty inherent in being human. Even if we have seen the Heavenly side, through an NDE or something similar, we are nonetheless incapable of achieving the perfection we experienced there, because we are only human and cannot truly experience Heavenly things in these limited bodies.
We are incapable of seeing the world we live in from a Heavenly perspective because of the limitations of what our brains can process, and overcoming the temptations seems so massive. To overcome fear and attain a perfect sense of love is beyond us because we are only human. So, no matter what we have experienced on the other side, if we are back in this world we are constantly torn between the beauty and perfection of the Heavenly world, and our inability to achieve that same beauty and perfection here on Earth. The frustration this causes is almost terminal.
For example, when my daughter was ten years old, she told me that she knew how to get into Heaven, and she would share this with me if I promised not to do it. The secret, she said, was to love everyone as completely and thoroughly as possible, all the way through. If you did this, she announced, as if it were an exercise one could practice for and achieve, you would get into Heaven. Then she admonished me once again not to try it.
Apparently, she thought I was super-human and could pull that off. I’m not too worried about it, though, because the human condition means that hate, envy, and jealousy, just to name a few fear-based feelings, are never far from the surface and easily serve to block any early entry steps into Heaven. Nonetheless, as I age and become less angry, more accepting, and generally more loving, especially after my recent visit up the heavenly staircase, I will, on occasion, think of someone I can really hate just to see if I can buy myself a little more time with my now-high-school senior and my wife. You know, just in case.
Finally, the last consistency is the message that love really is all there is. Any and all problems we face here on earth are situations we are supposed to work out by applying love. That we still apply our fears first, be they fears of lack, fears of death, fears of inadequacy, fears of whatever, is part of our human condition that we are supposed to overcome. In fact, the whole point of being here is to be bombarded with all the sensory input that we are, both good and bad, and try to find a loving way through every situation. Every single situation. Sound hard? It’s pretty impossible, almost. But frankly, most of us could try a lot harder than we are. And if we did try harder, how much nicer would the world become?!
Imagine 7 billion people managing their hate, greed, lust, envy, jealousy and fear by finding new ways to love. Imagine a society that valued loving responses over physical dominance; that condemned bullying; that valued each others' lives the way they value their own? But people use their free will to make choices, and give in to temptations, and they thus continue to embody the human condition.
What we learn from at least trying to overcome the weaknesses and frailties of being human, though, goes a long way towards the growth of our spirit. And the growth of our spirit in this life is the reason we are here, and it will be rewarded in Heaven. There are many tasks in Heaven, most associated with helping other souls on their journeys, and the more progress you’ve made on your own soul by trying to love as much as possible and overcoming the human condition as much as possible, the better position you will be in to assume higher level, and more rewarding, responsibilities in Heaven.