In 1994, I suffered a devastating rupture of my large intestine; thinking it was just a minor flu, I laid in bed. On the fourth day, my wife tried to reach me on the phone and found me totally incoherent; she rushed me to our local hospital. After extensive surgical repair, I laid in the hospital 21 days, on the verge of death for much of that time.
I was blessed by the hands of God, who kept me alive and brought me back to begin a successful teaching career, which began as a high school AP History teacher and ended 25 years later as a college literature and writing professor. God opened many doors for me to become the teacher that he made me. This was when I realized that I was walking the path of light God had prepared for me.
Since then, I have devoted my life to prayer, first as a Stephen Minister and then as a personal divine prayer minister at our local Episcopal church. I also began writing prayerful meditations and poetry that I have shared through both Facebook and various internet poetry sites.
Recently, I went into the hospital for a spinal fusion; the surgery involved getting to the spine through the abdomen. Problems arose when the doctors reached the spine and began to move a strand of scar tissue aside, when the scar tissue, which had wrapped around a major blood vein, burst. I lost over three pints of blood in less than 30 seconds.
The doctors stopped the bleeding, closed, and sealed the vein, and did not complete the spinal fusion, feeling it was too risky to continue. My awakening in recovery was extremely difficult. I did not want to leave the warm comfortable place which I inhabited. It was in the most pleasant place that I have ever been in my 77 years of life. I fought the awakening process, but I lost the fight; I awoke to a room with three or four nurses attending to me. The first words out of my mouth were referring to the several angels who were taking care of me. I was referring to the nurses. But something else was happening around me.
As I became more aware of my surroundings, I experienced two or three ethereal images floating above me, just below the ceiling; in my confusion, I thought I was dreaming. When these figures did not disperse, it occurred to me that these were in fact truly angels sent from God. Moreover, I felt a very warm feeling of being embraced by strong, gentle, loving arms. This feeling stayed with me all during my time in recovery and well into my first night in my own room. One by one, these ethereal figures lowered themselves into the figures of the various angelic nurses who tended to me over the next three days.
I continued to refer to my nurses as angels, and I still had the feeling that I was surrounded by a love much greater than I ever experienced before. I knew the angels of my reverie inhabited the bodies of all the nurses who attended to my needs. When the doctor checked on me the next morning, his words indicated that they almost lost me, and he explained what had gone on. I was greatly disappointed that my fusion did not occur, but I was overwhelming thankful that he had the God-given talent to keep me alive. God brings those to us when we are in dire need of help.
The overwhelming feeling of the warm embrace never dissipated over the next few days; I still had the feeling that God had and was holding me close to Him. This aura never left me for the three days I was in the hospital. In my drug-induced state, I tried to express this to my priest, but the words just could not come into my befuddled brain. Now, my third day home, I am capable of forming a lucid statement.
Now that I am home and recovering, and getting my mind clear of the anesthesia, I look back on the experience, knowing that God kept me alive, and for some reason, unknown to me, I am especially important to God’s work on earth. I write meditations, prayers, and poetry in praise of God and His works in humanity. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know that God wants me to live for a reason; originally, I thought that was being the teacher I was, but now I think it is something much more important. I leave the path open to follow God’s lead.
And, I feel blessed that He has chosen me twice in my life to help light His way to those I reach through my writing, my prayerful meditations, and my prayer ministry. I believe that God showed me what beauty mortal death brings; perhaps, for a moment, I actually stopped living, but Jesus invited me to re-awaken and carried me back to life. Being thankful to God is one thing; taking on the effort to bring God’s love to those I meet will be difficult; but with God’s help anything is possible. As Julian of Norwich wrote: “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”