[Adapted from What You Take To Heaven]
Transcendental experiences are often strange -- and indecipherable. From many, we draw the sense of how different it is in the spirit world, a world we all one day will see first-hand, in all its glory (God willing). But here on earth, the tastes of the supernatural can literally be jarring.
Sometimes, we have to be "rapped on the head" to get a sense of the Lord.
One woman who had an "illumination of conscience" wrote us:
"Back in 1991 at age thirty, I came down with a mysterious and painful illness that doctors couldn't diagnose. They agreed I had many symptoms that could be linked to a variety of ailments, among them multiple sclerosis, lupus, etcetera. But they couldn't say for sure what the problem was, and prescribed medicines for the main symptoms, which were unremitting pain and stiffness.
"Unfortunately the pain didn't go away and the medicines didn't work. Over a period of two and a half years, I became increasingly depressed as I became unable to work. Doctors began to suggest that my pain and other symptoms were all 'in my head' since they were unable to diagnose me. I began to consider trying to end my own life, which until then I had lived only for my own pleasure and wants.
"Around this time, I began to read the Gospels at length. I didn't plead with God to cure me as I had before, but instead, for the first time, I was more concerned with reading about the spiritual promises of God and in finding out more and more about His great love for us and His plan for our lives and eternity. While I wasn't yet a Christian and had not been baptized, I wanted to know Jesus and make a change in the way I had been living.
"I went to the public library and checked out books on comparative religion and spirituality. I prayed every day for a long time, often late into the night, as my husband was working in another state at the time and I only had myself to look after. For about eight months I lived this way, only leaving the house to visit family, go to the library, grocery shop, and attend Mass.
"One night in October of 1993, I cleaned up the kitchen, got a cup of tea, and settled down for my nightly devotional reading. I was about two hours into it and reading in the Books of Acts, Romans, and others parts of the Gospels and also was reading excerpts from a book called The Prophet. I remember crying because of the beauty of the words, when I heard a noise, like a mini-explosion in the kitchen, and a sound of something shattering.
"In the kitchen, I saw a heavy glass that I used as a pencil holder in fragments on the countertop, broken into curious little squares. I checked the windows, walls, and doors for a possible projectile that could've caused the glass to shatter (there had been occasional drive-by shootings in the vicinity of my home recently), but nothing. Feeling a little anxious, I went to bed and fell asleep after a long prayer. For the first time ever, I prayed that His Will would be done in my life rather than my own. I slept deeply, which was somewhat unusual.
"All of a sudden, I was awakened by a very sharp blow to the left side of my neck. It cracked my neck over to one side, and I heard myself say 'Owww!' as if from a distance or down a long tube. Immediately or perhaps simultaneously a really loud noise sounding like a door slamming (but seeming every bit as loud as a sonic boom) came from a direction in the room where there was neither a door or a window.
"The room shook. I was shocked and awake when I began to seemingly leave my physical body and rise. I do not have a very clear memory of exactly all that transpired while I was in this 'altered state.' I say 'altered' because I don't know for sure whether I was truly awake, asleep, or something else! I was mentally alert because I remember certain things very clearly but I was not using my eyes much to see. In fact most of my memories are of emotions and impressions, not of things seen actually as one sees them in the world.
"One of the things I know clearly is that I was ascending into the air outside my physical body. Creatures were in the air with me -- I have the impression now that they were angels -- but I can't clearly remember. They were saying things to me, seemingly imparting information, and there was music. I looked up and saw a star or light above me.
"This star or light was huge and blindingly brilliant, but the main characteristic of it was that it was pouring out love. The love coming out of that star was overwhelming and like nothing I had ever experienced. It made me acutely aware of how small my own ability to love was, drowned in the ocean of this great Love like a grain of sand. I knew that at all costs, I wanted to go to the Light which I was sure was God's dwelling place.
"So I did. I ascended faster and faster, and at some point I stopped ascending under my own power, because the star was actually pulling me in. The closer I got to the light of the star, the more the love poured out upon me. Finally, in a great burst of joy, the light seemed to fill me completely up and began to pour out of me.
"I felt like I had grown to one hundred feet tall, and a song was pouring out of me along with the light. I felt like I had known this song forever, but it certainly wasn't in English -- I was singing in a tongue that felt much more familiar than English (which is my mother tongue). The song was a hymn praising God, but I can't tell you now what the words were. The strange thing was that the song was coming not out of my throat, but seemingly out of every single cell in my body!
"I cannot accurately describe the extreme bliss of that moment. Rapture would be a good word for it. Suddenly, something shocking happened. All at once, I began to burn. It felt like I was in a fire which was consuming me entirely. I thought to myself that I was surely about to be annihilated, and a pang of fear struck me. And then the strange thought came to me: that I didn't care, that I loved God so much that it was okay by me if he wiped me out of existence forever. I saw my absolute dependence on God and that I was helpless in His Hands. He could kill me or let me live, whichever He wanted and I just didn't care, as long as I could be in the Presence of that love of His until my last conscious thought."
[resources: What You Take To Heaven]