When I was nineteen years old, my friends and I decided to go on a camping trip. It was September of our sophomore year of college at Illinois State University. With the air beginning to grow chilly but still warm enough to sleep outside, one of my friends pitched the idea of going on a camping trip for the weekend. The four of us thought it sounded like a fun idea. Yes, definitely! Then, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, my best friend of the group suggested we bring psychedelic mushrooms to try while in the forest. “Okay, sure… why not?” was the consensus. So, we packed up the Jeep with our tents, backpacks and ourselves, and set out for the Lake and the Adventure of a Lifetime.
I have an open and curious mind and a huge imagination . I was largely unsupported and became quite depressed, and in high school, I had been prescribed Prozac and Lithium for this depression. When I then took the mushrooms and then shared six or seven loaded pipefuls of marijuana, it was a recipe for my death.
I began rushing through space, not able to identify anything clearly. I saw flying squirrels flipped inside out, talking faces in the canopies of the trees and then finally, everything was liquid. I could not find solid ground to stand on. I was frantically jumping up and down and speaking unintelligible words trying to get my friend’s attention and alert them that I needed help. I did not know what kind of help or how to ask, my words would not come out right, and then I was in an absolute abyss. My body fell to the ground, and I was able to find a large rock to cling to. I could not see it but for momentary flashes, but I could feel it with my body, and it was the only thing I could identify so if I could at least just keep holding on to that rock, maybe I would be ok. Maybe once the drugs wore off, I would be ok.
I was not ok.
I lost all sense of time, and place and anything real or identifiable. I did not know where I ended, and the air was or if the air was water or if I was in outer space. In short, reality as I knew it was gone. The ground below me was not there. I was somehow floating, and hurtling forward at warp speed, seeing streams of white light all around me like you do on the deck of the Starship Enterprise. My body, my mind, my soul, my consciousness was on a journey unlike any before and ever since (thank God!) It was terrifying in a way I feel I cannot adequately communicate.
Then, suddenly, everything stopped.
I had stopped moving. Stopped hurtling forward in space as though on a spaceship.
I had died.
I was in heaven.
I was before the Lord. Before the Lord God. Before the one true God, Lord God and Lord King. I felt peace. I was on a cloud form and tried to look up at God. He was so tall and so bright that I immediately fell to my face in homage. It was an involuntary action. It is more accurate to say that my spirit body recognized the Lord and I fell to my face. There was no decision to do this, it just happened.
It was a form of worship, that just happened innately. I began to feel the guilt swelling up in my heart and began profusely apologizing for what I had done. “I’m so sorry! I’m so so sorry God! I’m so sorry I did this!”
He listened with a heart of love. There was no condemnation, no anger coming from Him, only a feeling of deep sadness that I had done this grave harm to myself.
I felt a deep love outpouring from Him. A feeling of strong love directly from Him to me. We did not speak with words from our mouths as we do on Earth, but rather directly heart to heart. I realized that I was in my spirit body, and that I had left my Earthly body.
“You are going to have to come up here and be with me now.” He finally said.
“No! I exclaimed! I don’t want to die yet! I don’t want to leave my mom and my sister. There’s so much more I want to do with my life! Please, Lord, don’t let me die. Please let me go back.”
There was a very long silence.
I spoke again.
I repeated my pleas.
“Please Lord, please don’t let me die! Please give me another chance. I am so sorry! I can do so much better, and I will do better!”
Another pause, He was taking in what I said and seemed to be giving it deep thought and consideration.
Finally, he spoke: “Ok. I will allow you to go back, but it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do, after having done this. Now, I’m going to tell you three things I want you to do: 1) Love your mom and your sister. 2) Tell the world all I’ve done for you, and 3) Paint.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you God!! I will, I will do all those things! Thank you!!” I said, overjoyed for the opportunity to come back to life and have a second chance!
Then next thing I remember was fluttering my eyes open and there being two paramedics, one on each side of me, leaning intently over me, with looks of deep concern in their eyes. I gasped a huge gasp of air into my lungs and sprung up into a seated position. I had left my body and it was lying there on the grass waiting for me to return. They were keeping me safe. My friends had called them when I began convulsing and lost consciousness. Thanks be to God!! They saved my life! God granted me life back, and these beautiful, loving, helpful people kept my body safe and brought me back to life, with the blessing of the Lord.
Then, I did the strangest thing. I looked around the large circle of people that had encircled around me. I looked at each of their faces and then said something like, "Why are you all just standing there staring at me? There is so much that needs to be done in the world, and you are just standing there staring at me!"
I think I said this because I was so ashamed about what I had done and wanted everyone to stop looking at me. I felt so embarrassed that I had caused such a scene and such a disturbance. That my friends and strangers alike had witnessed my body convulsing and writhing and that now all these people were there just looking at me. It felt like something very private I would not want anyone to see and here I was, totally exposed. I became so angry, I stood up and stormed away. I took off in my bare feet on the cold grass towards a gravel path. I did not get very far. The enormity of what had just happened began to occur to me and I began to panic inside. “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. What the heck just happened. I know what just happened but oh my God what am I going to do? I can’t do this alone! I have just said mean words to the people who helped me and saved my life… and stormed off in dramatic fashion as though to say, I can take it from here, thanks due to my shame…. And my legs began to feel shaky under me. The thought of the thing that had just happened really really sunk in now and my body was reacting to the knowledge. I think physically, I could have kept walking, but I knew I needed help. I knew without a shadow of a doubt I absolutely COULD NOT DO THIS ALONE. I MUST GET HELP. I was so ashamed of my bad behavior I could not bring myself to turn around and go back to apologize and ask forgiveness and ask them to help me.
So, I thought to myself, well, if I just fall down, I know they will come get me. I could see and feel them still watching me with concern. So that’s what I did. I collapsed my knees, and gently, there on the path, made my body fall to the ground.
The paramedics and my friends immediately rushed over to me and rescued me a second time. They ascertained that I needed to go to the hospital. I had my stomach pumped. I watched the squiggly lines in the ceiling tile move around like white worms, and I lived.