Shirin S's Experience
I was a student at a small liberal arts college, in Pennsylvania. I was a practicing, but rather liberal Episcopalian, and was part of a little Bible study group which met once a week in our dorm. One day, about a couple of weeks before finals, we were talking together and discovered that none of us had ever received the Gift of the Holy Spirit. As an Episcopalian, I had naturally assumed that I had gotten this gift when I had been confirmed at age 14, along with my little white prayer book, but I readily agreed to join the others to pray for this gift on our next scheduled session of Bible study. (Actually only three of the four of us wanted the Gift, but the fourth said she would show up and observe, but that she didn't want to be directly involved because she thought that praying for the Gifts of the Spirit was a little akin to playing with an Ouija board.)
The next week, another member of this group and I were talking together while waiting for the last two people to arrive, and my friend asked me which Gift of the Spirit was the one I thought the best. She said she wanted tongues and that she thought prophecy was the highest of the gifts. I was uninterested in tongues or prophecy, and I said that I thought healing was the most wonderful of gifts, and was the one I wanted most. (I had wanted to be a doctor ever since I was 14.) Well, the last two members of the group arrived, and we said a quick group prayer and then began praying over each person in turn, with the person for whom we were praying kneeling in the center, and the other two kneeling around her, with our hands placed on her head. (The fourth person sat in a corner, close to the door, and observed.) The third person to enter the room (who had not been in the room during our conversation) was the first person for whom we prayed. Next the friend who had wanted tongues and prophecy was prayed for. Nothing particularly extraordinary happened on either occasion. I was the third of the three people who were actually participating; the fourth continued to observe. When the other two began to pray over me, my friend (who had desired tongues and prophecy) began to pray in tongues (apparently a first time for her), and simultaneously I found myself caught out of my body, tumbled headfirst, very fast through a twisty, claustrophobic, narrow, dark, and almost horizontal tunnel in which I could smell the most wonderful smell in the entire Universe: an odor I had never experienced before.
There were odd shaped flowers growing beneath me while I was in the tunnel - the tunnel seemed like a horizontal tornado - and the edges the leaves and petals beneath me shimmered as if by moonlight. However, it was dark and I seemed to be travelling very fast, and the sounds of praying in tongues receded behind me. I had no time to study the flowers before I was spat out of the tunnel onto the top of a high, barren mountain under bright but cool light with neither clouds nor sun in the sky. In the distance I could see a series of other rocky mountaintops like mine, devoid of so much as a fleck of snow or water or even a single blade of grass. The wonderful smell had disappeared, and the sound of someone speaking in tongues was no longer audible. I was both delighted to be there and a little alarmed, but almost immediately I saw someone in white robes running towards me at great speed. I found I could see him in detail just by looking at him, and noticed that I couldn't tell how old he was because of the light shining off of him, but that he seemed tremendously happy; almost alarmingly so. He seemed to be a white man, tall, medium build, middle-aged or slightly older, and of average looks, and wearing white robes. He wasn't anyone I knew or had known. Certainly not Jesus and not an angel either. I felt afraid of him for a moment, but remembered that I had come there in prayer and was therefore under the protection of God, and since I was feeling very happy, curious and excited by this surprising development in my otherwise unexceptional little Bible study group, I smiled at him while waiting for him to reach me.
He stopped on the top of a neighboring mountain and stared at me unsmiling and seemingly puzzled. He was very far away, but I could see his features in great detail. A second later, while I was waiting for him to say something, a familiar-seeming presence whom I couldn't place, intruded into my mind, and gave both of us a highly amused, and very searching glance. The man in the white robes immediately turned around and started running back, looking equally joyful, and I found myself caught backwards down that tunnel faster than I had come, and whooshed back in my body. We all collapsed backwards on our heels, and the friend who had been praying in tongues; had said she wanted tongues. and had thought prophecy was the greatest gift said, "What happened? That was amazing! What did I say?" The only person who had understood the language was the third person, the one whom we had prayed over first, and who hadn't been there when we were talking about gifts before hand. She didn't remember all of it, but she said that the other person had said "My people will speak un tongues not their own...Thou, child, will have the gift of healing." I said, "You were speaking in tongues! That means that you got tongues and prophecy, and you (turning to the third) got interpretation!" We were all very pleased, and then we asked the fourth person if she would like to change her mind, and she looked highly alarmed and said "No," very firmly. The next week was the week before Finals, and so we were all studying like crazy and didn't meet for Bible study and so that actually was the last session of our Bible Study Group. Two of us graduated that year, and I was in a different dorm and lost touch with the remaining person. We never met again after that.
BUT, I did remember that I had been given the gift of healing, although I was kind of waiting for it to magically manifest, sort of like the owl in Harry Potter. It didn't occur to me to actually DO anything with it, although I prayed most nights for it to manifest. I figured if it was my time God would show me the way, and it was presumptuous of me to do anything to grease the skids. I went on into med school and into a university affiliated Pediatrics residency program, mostly because I discovered I liked my Pediatrics patients, and rather disliked my adult patients on rotations. (In retrospect, I think I was extremely immature at the time.) During my intern year my residency merged with a smaller, non-University affiliated program which was entirely composed of minority foreign medical students. Their departmental chairman insisted my program accept all of their current first year residents, and my program without warning cut 7 of its first year pediatric residents. All of the residents cut were minorities, including myself. There was no warning, whatsoever and it was way too late to get another program for the second year. I was the only one who tried to fight the decision; but after a few weeks I realized that any legal victory would be years in the coming, and would entirely destroy my career well before that. I moved on, and eventually went into Preventive Medicine with an intention of joining the WHO; realized that the field of tropical medicine held no room for US graduates at that point in time, and ended up double boarding in Preventive Medicine and Occupational Medicine, neither of which involved having a long term relationship with individual patients which was the one thing that I had longed for most when I dreamed about becoming a doctor. I truly hated the man who had made that decision to cut the program without warning; I had found out that he had made the decision in September, but waited until after the "match" in March in order to keep angry residents from scaring off the next year's first year residents. I brooded about it for years. Even though as a Christian, I knew I was commanded to forgive him, I couldn't do so, despite my best efforts and prayers to be able to forgive him. For the first ten years there was not a day that I did not remember my loss and weep. And no, I did not have the gift of healing during most of those years, although there was a single occasion in which I remember surreptitiously placing my hands on a sick baby in a Third world hospital where I as doing a fellowship; feeling power go out of my hands, and seeing the baby improved in the morning. (That was shortly after I learned to pray in tongues; unfortunately, I did not continue the practice, and only restarted it relatively recently. (I feel rather embarassed when I pray in tongues, and usually do so when I am sure that I am alone, e.g. when I am driving.)
In 2004, I was lying in bed brooding once more about this incident in my intern year, and suddenly it occurred to me to try to reach out telepathically to the man who had wronged me. (I am not a natural telepath, and I do not know why the idea came into my head.) I did so, and got such a vicious, venomous, furious reaction back, that I truly thought the man was a devil in disguise, and resolved to have nothing further to do with him, although I did pray for him. I kept the resolution not to reach out mentally to him again for awhile, but in 2009, again in a fit of angry brooding, I reached out mentally to him again. This time I was aware of an angry but listening silence; as if he couldn't respond, but was aware of me and resentful of my anger. A few months later I reached out mentally again. This time, I suddenly saw in front of me, a white boy with black hair, who was perhaps ten years old. H was wearing brown knickerbockers, brown stockings, brown leather tie shoes, white shirt and a thin black tie, and he looked at me as if slightly worried. His face was that of a kid caught in some not very bad mischief, uncertain if his mother was about to laugh or frown. As far as I knew I had never seen him before. Unfortunately I was on a roll, and I started spewing out the anger I felt for the man who had harmed me. and who I assumed was this child. The child screamed out as if I were a trusted relative who had savagely attacked him, and I sat straight up and said "Avert! God forbid that any harm should come to this man and this child, and if harm must come of it let it fall on me." Suddenly, I was back on the mountaintop and the white man in the white robes was there, his face was filled with joy, and this time I recognized him as the man who had injured me back when I was an intern.
Since then I have never felt the least hatred of him, and indeed, I feel a deep love for him, and I find it quite easy to pray for him. I have truly forgiven him, and while I still agree that what he did back then was despicable, I also feel that my sin in hating him all these years, and in brooding over it was a greater sin against him and against God than was his sin against me. To my mind now, the difference between his sin and mine is the difference between a kid blaming some other kid for some screw-up, and the other kid pouring rat poison into the first kid's juice. My response, while somewhat justified, was out of measure disproportionate to the crime.
This past year, I have
joined a healing team at church. The folks who ask me to pray for them seem to
feel it is helping. No miracles however, nor have my hands become hot the way
they did the first time I felt power go out of me. I also have resumed praying
in tongues, mostly when I am driving because praying in tongues does rather
Any associated medications or substances with the potential to affect the experience? No
Was the kind of experience difficult to express in words? Yes
At the time of this experience, was there an associated life threatening event? No
What was your level of consciousness and alertness during the experience? Fully alert
Was the experience dream like in any way? No. It was much more real than a dream. In any case I almost always dream in black and white.
Did you experience a separation of your consciousness from your body? Yes I seemed to have a body when I was on the mountain, but I was able to see 360 degrees around me.
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Joy, mostly. Excitement, curiosity, and very briefly alarm.
Did you hear any unusual sounds or noises? No
LOCATION DESCRIPTION: Did you recognize any familiar locations or any locations from familiar religious teachings or encounter any locations inhabited by incredible or amazing creatures? No
Did you see a light? Uncertain The mountain was bathed in a cool, bright light, but it wasn't coming from any where in particular. The leaves and plants that I saw and smelled while in the tunnel were in darkness, but were gleaming by a reflected light, the way leaves in a forest might gleam under moonlight.
Did you meet or see any other beings? Yes As above.
Did you observe or hear anything regarding people or events during your experience that could be verified later? Yes While I was on a tropical medicine fellowship later on, I came back to my parents home bringing 4 large boxes of orchids to deck the reception tables for my sister's wedding. I stood the flowers in several 5 gallon buckets overnight (the wedding and reception was the day afterwards), and the next day the blossoms on the lower parts of the stalks were found to have been soaked by the water, and to have colored the water a rich purple. The smell of the water was the same smell that I smelled in the tunnel with the flowers underneath me.
Did you notice how your 5 senses were working, and if so, how were they different? Yes My vision was much better. My hearing was normal. My sense of smell was unusually acute. I could feel the wind of my passing through the tunnel, but I didn't try to touch anything. I didn't try to taste anything.
Did you have any sense of altered space or time? The time on the mountain seemed to take longer than the time that they were praying, but we are talking about the difference between 10 minutes and 5 minutes.
Did you have a sense of knowing, special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose? Yes I know I have the gift of healing and this is part of my purpose. I think the gift of healing is kind of like the gift of reading, (which requires you to begin with phonemes and sight words and can be a chore, especially in the early stages when you are reading award winning stuff like "Run Spot Run!") I think I should have dived in and tried to openly witness and practice my gift. Talk about hiding one's light under a bushel, eh?
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes The mountain was definitely a boundary. I couldn't get off it; it was too steep. The man in white robes was running up and down mountains and across valleys, but when he came to the mountain nearest me, he stopped. When I saw him the second time, he was on the same mountain as I was.
Did you become aware of future events? No
Were you involved in or aware of a decision regarding your return to the body? No I actually was trying to stay there.
Did you have any psychic, paranormal or other special gifts following the experience that you did not have prior to the experience? Yes Yes, but it is clearly the sort of gift that needs work and practice.
Did you have any changes of attitudes or beliefs following the experience? No No, I was already a Christian. I became a stronger Christian. Okay, there was a single occasion in my life, some years later when I thought seriously about taking my life, and went so far as to gather the means. However, I have since realized that I am simply not allowed to die, and I am very glad that I didn't do so. It was sheer cowardice: running away from a problem. Since then I have stood my ground, good times and bad.
How has the experience affected your relationships? Daily life? Religious practices? Career choices? I have never been afraid of death since then. I know that I will be in the garden with the wonderful scent of orchids when I die.
Has your life changed specifically as a result of your experience? Uncertain This was the single most wonderful and meaningful experience in my life. They say if you are fleeing a house fire, a mother grabs her baby, and an unmarried woman her jewel box. If I develop Alzheimer's, (God forbid!) but have a choice of preserving a single memory, I would choose to preserve this one.
Have you shared this experience with others? Yes My sister. She believed me. She told me that once she had an experience in which she saw the pearly gates, and they really were made of mother of pearl, but that she was told that there had been a mistake and she had to go back. By the way, both her experience and mine were when we were students and were well before the popularity of NDE or OBE.
What emotions did you experience following your experience? Mostly a great happiness.
What was the best and worst part of your experience? The tunnel was the worst part. The best part was the garden underneath the tunnel with the wonderful smell.
Is there anything else you would like to add concerning the experience? No.
Following the experience, have you had any other events in your life, medications or substances which reproduced any part of the experience? No
Did the questions asked and information you provided accurately and comprehensively describe your experience? Yes