Thursday, May 01, 2014

NDE’s: The Necessity for Metaphor

I have long known the value of a metaphor.  Its meaning is, literally, “to carry beyond.”  While reading accounts of Near-Death Experiences, I see the individuals struggling to use terms from “this side” to express to the reader what they are experiencing on the “other side.”

Here are some examples from “90 Minutes in Heaven” by Donald Piper.  He is forced to use “earthly terms” to express “heavenly experiences.”

As soon as I stopped gazing at the people’s faces, I realized that everything around me glowed with a dazzling intensity.  In trying to describe the scene, words are totally inadequate, because human words can’t express the feelings of awe and wonder at what I beheld.

I wasn’t blinded, but I was amazed that the luster and intensity continually increased.  Strange as it seems, as brilliant as everything was, each time I stepped forward, the splendor increased.  The farther I walked, the brighter the light.  The light engulfed me, and I had the sense that I was being ushered into the presence of God.  Although our earthly eyes must gradually adjust to light or darkness, my heavenly eyes saw with absolute ease.  In heaven, each of our senses is immeasurably heightened to take it all in.  And what a sensory celebration.

I was home, I was where I belonged.  I wanted to be there more than I had ever wanted to be anywhere on earth.  Time had slipped away, and I was simply present in heaven.  All worries, anxieties, and concerns vanished.  I had no needs, and I felt perfect.

Time had no meaning.  However, for clarity, I’ll relate this experience in terms that refer to time.
As I try to explain this, my words seem weak and hardly adequate, because I have to use earthly terms to refer to unimaginable joy, excitement, warmth, and total happiness.

Everything I experienced was like a first-class buffet for the senses.  I had never felt such powerful embraces or feasted my eyes on such beauty.  Heaven’s light and texture defy earthly eyes or explanation.  Warm, radiant light engulfed me.  As I looked around, I could hardly grasp the vivid, dazzling colors.  Every hue and tone surpassed anything I had ever seen. The best way I can explain it is to say that I felt as if I were in another dimension.  Never, even in my happiest moments, had I ever felt so fully alive.

It was as if each step I took intensified the glowing luminosity.  I didn’t know how it could get more dazzling, but it did.  It would be like cracking open the door of a dark room and walking into the brightness of  a noonday sun.  As the door swings open, the full rays of the sun burst forth, and we’re momentarily blinded.

As a young boy I spent a lot of time out in the country and woods.  When walking through waist-high dried grass, I often surprised a covey of birds and flushed them out of their nests on the ground.  A whooshing sound accompanied their wings as they flew away.

My most vivid memory of heaven is what I heard.  I can only describe it as a holy swoosh of wings.
But I’d have to magnify that thousands of times to explain the effect of the sound in heaven.

A second sound remains, even today, the single most vivid memory I have of my entire heavenly experience.  I call it music but it differed from anything I had ever heard or ever expect to hear on the earth.  The melodies of praise filled the atmosphere.  The nonstop intensity and endless variety overwhelmed me.

Even back on earth, sometimes I still hear faint echoes of that music.  I still have flashbacks, although they’re different from what we normally refer to as flashbacks.  Mine are more flashbacks of the sounds than the sights.

One thing did surprise me:  On earth, whenever I thought of heaven, I anticipated that one day I’d see a gate made of pearls.  The gate wasn’t made of pearls, but was pearlescent—perhaps iridescent may be more descriptive.  To me, it looked as if someone had spread pearl icing on a cake.  The gate glowed and shimmered.