journey to understand God began in the rugged environment
of a Texas childhood that was filled with "rattlesnakes,
tornadoes, and hellfire-and-damnation." Her
early concept of God was molded by the pervasive,
extremist religious community of the Bible Belt
exemplified by the Southern Baptist Religion practiced
by her parents. The wrathful, vengeful God, as taught
by her religion, instilled in Linda a deep fear
of God, death and the afterlife.
Her lifelong search for
a loving God and release from the paralyzing fear
of death culminated in a brief journey to heaven
after a debilitating illness. The near-death experience
transformed Linda, showing her that God is only
a loving God, who does not judge and punish. She
came to understand the Oneness of all existence
which permeated her life with peace and the unfaltering
knowledge of God's goodness. Her near-death
experience is published in Kevin Williams' NDE
Nothing Better Than Death.
Stewart's Near-Death Experience
I finally gave up my will to live, relinquishing
my life unto death was sublimely easy after my long
illness and loss of everything that had made life
worthwhile for me. The decision to leave this world
hung suspended in an extended moment of absolute
quiet. Passionless, I watched my spirit leave my
body as a feeling of "otherness" engulfed
me. I felt a strange detachment from my physical
body and the life I had created. I was no longer
connected to a pitiful, suffering mass of flesh.
I was not that body and yet, I still existed but
in a new state of being. Gone was the wrenching
pain that had accompanied my every waking moment.
The strain of expanding my lungs to gasp for air
had disappeared. Fatigue, which had weighted my
life for years, had lifted. Depression no longer
drained my mind of hope. Sight and sounds did not
sear my head with pain, leaving me emotionally bereft.
And yet, I still existed. I felt weightless and
Although I knew I was
not in the lifeless body lying on my bed, and that
the eyes and brain I had previously identified as
mine, were in that inanimate object with which I
no longer identified, I was still aware of sight
and thoughts and sensations. I observed my new reality
with tranquility. Slowly I looked around and below
me I saw a vast, endless blackness. Like a void
or black hole, I was irresistibly drawn toward the
darkness. Gradually, I felt myself sinking toward
it. I thought, without fear or any emotional reaction, "Isn't
that strange?" I had been so afraid I was going
to be judged and sent to either heaven or hell.
But it appeared I would simply disappear into the
dark nothingness. As even my new awareness waned,
I yielded to the heaviness overtaking me as darkness
filled my mind. My vision became obscured as I began
to merge into the blackness.
Offering no resistance,
I released my hold on any remaining shred of consciousness
and personal identity. At the very moment I felt
the last of me disappearing into nothingness, I
was suddenly buffeted by a powerful, energetic force
that swooped beneath and lifted me, carrying me
Barely conscious, my
only awareness was a sensation of rising. I seemed
to be traveling upward at an unimaginable speed.
A clean sensation of wind rushed over my face and
body with tremendous force and yet there was no
discomfort. Vast distances seemed to fly by me and
the higher I rose, the more my head cleared. I became
aware of a deep sense of peace and warmth that permeated
my senses. Confused, because the energy that had
enveloped me had a definite presence, I tried to
see what was happening and who was carrying me;
who or what cared so deeply for me? I felt peaceful
and loved immeasurably. I knew I was in the arms
of a being who cherished me with perfect love and
carried me from the dark void into a new reality.
As my mind cleared, scoured
of the remnants of mortal, past associations, I
was finally able to open my being fully to spirit
and my vision cleared.
the eyes of my soul body, I looked to see what held
me in such love and I beheld a radiant, Spirit being,
so magnificent and full of love that I knew I would
never again feel the sense of loss. I have no way
of explaining how, but I knew the Spirit was Christ.
It was not a belief, perception or understanding,
but my recognition of Christ came from my new perspective
I did not see the Spirit
as I had seen Jesus of Nazareth depicted in paintings,
but the innate knowing of my heart remembered and
acknowledged Christ. The radiant Spirit was Christ,
the manifestation and expression of pure love. Because
of my Christian education, I knew no other name
to call what I felt as I looked at him.
Others might have called
him Buddha, or Yahweh, or Great Spirit in the Sky,
but the naming did not matter, only the recognition
of absolute love and truth was important. Safe in
the gentle yet powerful embrace of his love, I rested,
secure that everything was okay, exactly as it was
supposed to be.
Ascending ever farther,
I lifted my eyes to see a great light in the vast
distance. With Christ as my guide, I rapidly approached
the light. Ecstasy filled my soul as I looked at
the radiance, many-fold brighter than a sun.
The light was everywhere
and everything, the brightest I had ever seen and
dazzling beyond description. Brilliant enough to
blind or burn, yet I was not harmed.
The light moved over
and through me, washing every hidden place of my
heart, removing all hurt and fear, transforming
my very being into a song of joy. I had thought
the love I felt from Christ was complete, yet, the
light toward which we were soaring was the fulfillment
of my search, the loving Source of all that exists,
the God of truth and unconditional love, the origin
My understanding of love
was forever changed. The majesty and glory of that
vision was an ineffable moment that defined forever
more, the direction of my new truth. I was home
and I wanted nothing more than to remain in the
light of God. Christ had delivered me into the light
and I stood in the presence of God. I was filled
with complete knowing: The light was love and love
was God. Waves of consummate love which emanated
from the light obliterated every burden I carried
and every thought that kept me from knowing God.
I was made aware of my purity. With new clarity,
I realized I had been walking through life ghostlike,
wrapped in a shroud of fear, huddled against illusions.
I stood like a lover, open to the liquid flow of
golden light that filled my empty shell to overflowing.
There was no limit to
the outpouring as I came to the rapturous awareness
of the infinite nature of God's love. There
was no place that God did not exist and I was within
God. I am an inseparable part of the light. The
truth of who I am, indeed, who we all are, is perfect
love as a creation of God. All of God's creation
is one creation and I am one with creation. God
and I are one, Creator and created.
I had spent a lifetime
of fear of judgment and now, standing with God,
I had been known completely and found faultless.
I knew God regarded me as perfect. God loved me
because love is the totality of God. God loves without
limit. Finally it all made sense. God could only
love me because God is only love, nothing other
than love. The only reality is God; there cannot
be another and GOD IS LOVE.
I had reached my true
home. I turned to Christ and said, "This is
beautiful. I am home. This is where I want to be.
I want to stay." And Christ answered, "You
can stay for a little while and then you must return."
2. After Her Return
couldn't believe I had to come back to physical
reality. After a lifetime of confusion and fear,
I had stood in the presence of an open, receptive,
non-judging, totally loving God. I wanted nothing
more than to remain in that presence but was told
I had to return.
Another aspect of the
dramatic change in my life after my near-death experience
is that I no longer have a fear of death. In fact,
death became my favorite subject overnight. Where
I had once forbidden even speaking the dreadful
word in my home, now my family and friends couldn't
get me to stop talking about my amazing experience.
Surprisingly, I was sad
and angry, even defiant. I was confounded that after
my lifetime of fear, I had made it to heaven and
then had been sent back. "Why?" I asked, "Was
I too little a fish, or what!"
For almost a year, often
I would lie in my bed at night crying, sobbing and
begging God to let me come home. I was not one of
those lucky persons who experienced a spontaneous
remission of their illness with their near-death
experience. I was still very sick and I didn't
understand the point of my having to remain on Earth
when I could make no contributions and had barely
any interactions with my family or other people.
I found myself whining, questioning, and begging
God. "Please, please, please, PLEASE let me
Bargaining with God,
I urged, "If I have to stay here, why can't
you cure me so I can do something?" Pleading
with God, I cried, "If you aren't going
to cure me outright, what if you let me be just
well enough to paint even just an hour a day? If
I can't do anything, why can't there be
some way I can be around people? I'M LONELY!"
Although I felt waves
of love wash over me constantly when I stopped complaining
long enough to remember my experience, I never got
the answers to my pleas. At least not the answers
After about a year I
prayed a new prayer from the sincerest depths of
my heart. Once again I relinquished my will and
efforts to direct my own life, as completely as
the night I gave up my hold on life and died. I
said to God, "My dear God, I give up. I do
not know what is right for me. I don't know
what I am supposed to do, who I am to see, or what
I should say. I don't even know what to think.
I am always requesting what I think would be best
for me. God, I don't know what is best for me.
My life is yours.After about a year I prayed a new
prayer from the sincerest depths of my heart. Once
again I relinquished my will and efforts to direct
my own life, as completely as the night I gave up
my hold on life and died. I said to God, "My
dear God, I give up. I do not know what is right
for me. I don't know what I am supposed to do,
who I am to see, or what I should say. I don't
even know what to think. I am always requesting
what I think would be best for me. God, I don't
know what is best for me. My life is yours.
Whatever you want for
me is fine. If I am to lie here in this bed, sick
and disabled for the rest of my life, whether it
is twenty minutes or twenty years, that's fine.
Whatever happens is fine. I know you love me."
And then I added, "I make one request, however.
Please, if I am to live, let me be useful in some
way - for YOU."
3. Her Gift From God
curious manifestation after my near-death experience
was that I began seeing a white glow and glint of
lights around people and objects. Because I had
had so many physical anomalies during my illness,
I assumed the "lights" were another, optical
side effect of the illness. I was later shown that
the lights were far more than that.
As my health had slowly
improved, I occasionally drove myself short distances
to appointments. One day as I was driving down a
busy street, I stopped at a red light and watched
an odd scene unfold before me. A delivery truck
had parked on the right side of the street about
a half-block ahead. The truck was one that opened
from the sides rather than the back. I watched as
the driver walked around to the traffic side of
his truck and began unloading his cargo with oncoming
traffic approaching. Inside my car, I said out loud
in my little southern voice, "Oh honey, you
shouldn't do that, it's dangerous."
On this notable day,
I watched, stunned, as the familiar dancing lights
around the delivery man swirled, quickly coalescing
into the form of a breath-taking, translucent, beautiful
woman-spirit, glowing with light.
Perhaps it was because
I had sent a loving and concerned thought about
the delivery mans' well-being that the spirit turned
her loving gaze on me. For a brief moment, our eyes
met. She smiled at me, then, hovering over the unsuspecting
man, returned her attention to her charge who was
oblivious to the heavenly presence and was busily
going about his business. I was thunderstruck.
Barely breathing for
fear the vision would leave, and mesmerized by the
vision, I was reluctant to take my eyes off the
beauty of the scene; however, from my peripheral
vision, I became aware of even more compelling lights.
When I was able to tear myself away from the spirit,
I glanced slowly at the vista around me and everywhere
I looked, every single person in my view had beautiful,
loving spirits attending them. People walking nonchalantly
down the sidewalk were accompanied by spirits. From
within cars, unfettered by physical barriers, I
could see the glow and form of beings around the
occupants. I saw joggers with flutters of light
streaking behind them as their spirit kept pace.
As people entered and left buildings, light beings
followed. The view before me was filled with brilliant,
From the limited understanding
of my human mind, I struggled to comprehend the
meaning of what I saw. I knew the lights were connected
to the individual people, although more of them,
than with them, almost as if they were an extension
of their existence - a light connection to an aspect
of their Higher Self. The lights, a connection to
the humans, which were glinting off the beings were
so bright and expansive, they interconnected, forming
a sort of light grid. I remembered reports in books
on the near-death experience of people seeing grids
on the other side that they didn't know how to explain.
As I looked at the network
of light before me and felt the immense outpouring
of love coming from the beings, I realized the connection
of human beings to the Beings of Light was through
love and that the love itself was connected through
metaphor represented by the image I saw and perceived
was absolutely clear and I was overwhelmed with
the knowledge that WE ARE ALL ONE. I comprehended
that our oneness is interconnected by love and is
an available, much higher level and means of communication
than we normally use but to which we have access.
This love is available to anyone who is willing
to do the hard spiritual work that will allow us
to open our hearts and minds and eyes to Spirit.
I remembered the love I had felt in the presence
of God and experienced a total sense of love for
all existence as an interconnected oneness and a
manifestation of God.
Over and over this single
truth was being driven home to me. Only God exists,
God is everything. All that I gaze upon is a representation
of God; not the physical mirage but rather, the
shining brilliance behind the mask.
I was startled back to
everyday awareness by the blasting of a horn. I
looked down at my speedometer and realized I was
barely creeping forward in the car. With sheets
of tears streaming down my face and all but blind
with emotion, I pulled to the side of the road until
I could take in all that I had witnessed and regain
my composure. I don't know how long I sat, taking
in the wonder of that event but I couldn't move
until the spectacular vision slowly dissipated,
returning to the more familiar form of lights around
the bodies of the people I watched.
I was reluctant to leave
because I hoped the angels would return, and I called
them angels because I didn't know what else
to say. But when I gathered my senses enough to
drive, I made my way home. Anxious to tell my husband,
still, I wondered what he would think. Would he
think I was hallucinating, getting sick again, or
perhaps, even losing my mind? Much to his credit,
he listened with open ears to my tale. In fact,
after I told my story, his response was, "Can
you see anything around me?" Looking deeply
into the lights around him, I discovered that by
focusing on the glinting lights, a form emerged,
taking the appearance of a beautiful spirit. When
I described his spirit attendant, he was thrilled.
by Ed's response, I told my story to my children
and friends and they related the information to
their friends. That initiated the sometimes timid
and skeptical, but always curious inquiries from
the friends. They too, asked if I would mind telling
them if they had beings around them.
Would I mind? It was
my joy to share the love I felt coming from the
exquisite inhabitants of a dimension where love
reigns. Eagerly, I shared with anyone who wanted
to know if they, too, had angels around them.
Eventually, news of my
ability to see the angelic realm spread via a newspaper
article, television appearances, college lectures
and, most significantly, word-of-mouth. Today, I
devote my time to readings, counseling and lectures.
As I talked to more and more people, I garnered
new insights. In the beginning I called what I saw
angels because I didn't have any other word
to explain what I saw. The beings were always loving,
luminous and had an other-worldly presence and beauty.
Curiously, as my ability to discern spirits progressed,
I began to see a different type of spirit hovering
around people, and they compelled my attention.
I felt responsible to describe exactly what I saw
and only what I saw around the people who requested
a reading, even if their spirits did not look like
the stereotypical angel which they expected.
instance: I once told a woman of an older man with
ears that stuck out, wearing little round spectacles
and with a goofy smile that revealed teeth that
had spaces between them. The woman looked amazed
and with tears in her eyes, she said, "Oh,
my gosh, I recognize him. That's my uncle who
was killed. I've always wondered if he was okay."
The spirit grinned and related telepathically with
me. I was able to let his niece, whom he still loved,
know that he was fine and had been with this unsuspecting
woman all the time. The first time this sort of
thing happened, I was taken by surprise. Confused
and with a knot of apprehension in the pit of my
stomach, I thought, "Oh great, now I'm
seeing 'dead' people!" If I had not
had my near-death experience, I might have thought
I was going crazy. But I did have a near-death experience.
I could now see angels, and evidently I could also
see the spirits of people who had died.
There is no death, but
I could report on the presences from the other realms
where spirits reside after leaving their mortal
existence. I also discovered I could, on occasion,
see the spirit form of people who are still alive
on the Earth realm. I quickly resolved my apprehension
about this ability when I saw the happiness and
comfort it gave people to hear the encouraging stories
of love beyond the grave.