"You will seek and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13
My mother told me when I was young that I didn't have to worry about whether there was a God or not because there were ten proofs that God existed. I'd learn about these when I was older.
I went to a Catholic high school in Milwaukee. We discussed these ten proofs in class when I was sixteen. I was disappointed since none of the "proofs" proved anything to me. Knowing if a God existed was important because that knowledge would help me determine how I should live my life.
At first, I thought about God and thought about God, but I couldn't convince myself that there was one. I didn't have a problem understanding concepts in school. But I couldn't intellectualize the existence of a God, or life after death for that matter.
So, I started my search to find God. I began to search for God, day and night. I searched each night in my dreams. I would dream that I was walking through rolling hills and rivers in a land with a temperate climate. There were no people or animals there. I just kept walking through the ground, looking for God. The next night, I started walking again, right from where I'd left off.
After months of this recurring dream, I started to see animals—sheep, goats, and rabbits. Then I began to see people tending to the animals. The people in my dreams all looked similar. They had even features, straight light brown hair, a relatively small build, and wore white tunics. In my dreams, I looked like one of them.
When I walked by a person, I would ask them where I could find God. Initially, these people ignored me. I kept walking each night and asking everyone I met, "Where can I find God?" One night, one of them said, "Don't you know?" Then he ignored me. Then another would say, "Don't you know?" Each morning I woke up eager to continue looking for God the next night.
Finally, after about six months of recurring dreams, I asked a man I came upon, "Where is God?" He said, "Don't you know, it all flows." Then he touched my arm, and my arm flowed into his arm. Startled, I woke up. The next night I met this same man. I was careful not to touch him. I asked him, "Where can I find God?" He said, "You'll find God tomorrow." I was elated. I woke up looking forward to the next night.
So, the next night came. I started walking joyfully from where I'd left off the night before, anticipating finding God. But when I came upon someone, they ignored me. I was trying to understand why everyone ignored me since they had spoken to me before. I kept walking and walking anyway, but my alarm clock went off. It was morning, and I hadn't found God. I was upset! I thought, "There must not be a God since I've looked and looked and still can't find him. I even lie to myself in my dreams." At that thought, I fell into deep despair. It felt like I was spiraling down into an emotional abyss.
When I hit rock bottom and experienced total despair, I felt a presence come into my room. This presence personified complete compassion and love. I heard the entity say, "Find peace, my child. You've suffered enough." Simultaneously, it felt like a giant arm came down from heaven and scooped up my soul. A white light suddenly engulfed my spirit.
Inside the light, I felt love, total peace, and acceptance. While inside the light, I knew everything. There were no mysteries. At that moment, I felt absolute love. Then suddenly, I was put back on the edge of my bed. I thought, "Wow! There is a God, and he loves me!"
Until that point, I'd felt ambiguous about life. I thought there couldn't be a God. I didn't know what to believe. What you get from life is essential if there isn't a God. What you give during your life is critical if there is a God. Before this experience, I would think, "What's in it for me?" After this experience, I would think about what's right and wrong. Knowing if God existed was vital because that knowledge would frame how I'd live my life. Now I knew he existed.
After that, it didn't matter if my family loved me. It didn't matter if anyone loved me, for that matter, and I wasn't afraid to die. If I died, I'd go back into the white light. I thought, "I came from the white light, and someday I'd return to the white light." Everything was known when I was in the light, but I didn't know anything again once I was back in my bedroom.
I didn't know anything. I didn't know if all people go to heaven or only the good ones. And what is it to be "good"? Does "good" mean you follow the Ten Commandments? Which is the true religion? Are all faiths "right," or are none of them "right"? Should you love everyone, and what does "love" mean? Should you have sex before marriage or not? I decided I'd only have sex with someone I loved, preferably after we married.
Now that I was out of the light, I was ignorant again. I did know that life had a plan, and I knew life would unfold as it should. This knowledge gave me the strength to endure setbacks in the future. It made me more accepting, and it gave me a sense of peace.
This spiritual experience was the most profound moment of my life. I can't convey what happened in words. Before this experience, I didn't know what to do with my life, but now I knew I wanted to do positive things. Previously, I'd put in as little effort as possible to get what I wanted, but now I have begun working very hard to achieve positive outcomes.
I'm seventy-one now. Back in 1967, people didn't talk about "white lights," so becoming encapsulated in one was a complete surprise. I was expecting to find a "God" in my dreams more in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church. I thought if I walked through the "promised land" in my dreams enough, I would eventually come to some pearly gates. Behind them would be the kingdom of God with a big castle. In the court, I'd meet God sitting on a big throne, and he'd have Jesus sitting on his right side.
I was called a heretic by the nuns at school for not believing in God. I didn't tell anyone about my experience for a long time. If I told anyone God came to me in a white light of love, they'd think I was lying or suggest I see a psychiatrist immediately.
I did tell my boyfriend Peter about my white-light experience forty-two years ago, and he married me anyway.
I also told my mother. She said, "That's nice, dear." Then I told my sister. She said, "I'm glad you had that experience." Neither one of them "got" that something profound had happened to me. I thought no one would understand this, so I kept it to myself after that.
Although I spoke of my experience infrequently, it motivated me to do what I thought was good and gave me the strength to endure whatever I needed to survive.
I read that two hundred thousand people are brought back after being clinically dead each year in the United States. Ten to twenty percent report having a near-death experience. Although these experiences vary, most say they went into a white light described as love and peace, similar to what happened to me.
So, I'm not alone in having an experience like this. The most significant difference is that I wasn't dead when it occurred. Most people who have a near-death experience no longer have a fear of dying. I don't fear death, either. As I get older, I'm looking forward to it. Since I was so young when it happened, the experience shaped my life.