A short while ago we had an article about Kelley Jankowski's enthralling new book, An Army in Heaven, that details -- in great depth, meticulously -- descriptions from patients she has worked with who were dying or even crossed over briefly to the other side.
Kelley is a registered nurse who has worked in I.C.U's or hospices for twenty-seven years, and took copious notes after long chats with some of her more interesting patients.
We carried one excerpt about a businessman named Alan who owned an engineering firm and described a visit to levels of hell -- one of the more frightening depictions of the netherworld we have every seen.
He described plenty. But he stopped short in his recollections when it came to the lowest levels he had allegedly witnessed. "That was all he would tell me," says Kelley about the description of several places that were plenty horrific. "He would only go so far with the levels. Sometimes it was hard to write down because he got so somber."
It was a tour of hell, during his death experience, with the Archangel Michael, who was showing Alan where he would go if he permanently crossed the veil at that point. Alan urgently reformed his cold, materialistic way of life when he "returned."
Overall, Kelley found that patients more often had good experiences than bad, when they had poignant stories to recount, although the largest number seemed "neutral." Purgatory? She suspected there would have been more negative ones but that many of her patients simply would not discuss them. Meanwhile, the good ones were good indeed -- and patients groped for words to describe the beauty. Their entire countenances changed.
God, Kelley learned, is all Mercy. But He also wants us pure. He wants our every thought about others to be positive: praying for them instead of thinking critically. This is crucial. His Mercy, as she puts it, is totally "complete." But everyone has certain things to work through, or most do. Perhaps one could say: we go through life on earth as renters, and the rent we pay is what we share with others. "He pursues us endlessly," says Kelley, who has six children and whose husband is retired military. They live in Hampstead, Maryland.
Everyone is born in a unique way and everyone dies in a different way, she points out.
It's us and God.
A key thing she noticed with those who had frightening experiences was that they had ignored spirituality. And the underlying theme of life reviews: I should have done this or that better, as they review - and relive -- certain scenes in their lives.
In purgatory, we practice and practice and review and review until we get it right permanently.
We can do this here while on earth if we are diligent every waking moment.
We can avoid purgatory.
In purgatory, we are not dressed so well. We are not as well groomed. It is dingy. And it reflects our states of mind.
The most sobering account of all was one that Kelley tells us she didn't want to put in but did at the last moment; it involved a 51-year-old man named Douglas who had metastatic gastric and esophageal cancer. A nasty cuss, was Douglas, who was just skin and bones and badly jaundiced and swore at those trying to help him. There was, as Kelley put it, "a demon within."
Writes Kelley: "Abandoned as a child, in and out of foster homes, bouts with the law as a teenager, jail, and substance abuse. I dropped my chart when I heard the most terrifying howl. I bolted up and ran down the hall toward his room and found him lying in bed, his arms down at his side, and he was screaming like an animal."
With a deep growl, he cursed at Kelley. She was "dumbfounded" at his hatred of her. Her skin erupted into goose bumps. Spittle flew as he jerked his head at her. It was terrifying. Nurses did not want to enter his room without a security guard.
At one point, he snickered and flicked at her Miraculous Medal. At another, he slurped and flicked his tongue like a snake. He also told another nurse the details of an abortion that nurse had once had -- taunting her with astounding details, and howling with pleasure at this nurse's horror at his supernatural knowledge. His tone was such that "I had never heard anything so terrifying in my life," writes Kelley.
Instead of despising such people, we are called to pray for them.
"I'm not here to judge him," writes Kelley in this fascinating book. "But I hope that he found peace in the end. Hopefully, he turned to God even if it was at the last second of his life. I believe wholeheartedly that God's Mercy is offered to all of us, even up to the last second, the last heartbeat, the last breath."
We are renters on this earth; what we must constantly seek is our abode in Heaven.
[resources: An Army in Heaven]