I was driving a white two door Austin 1100, which is small car, when the event occurred. My wife Christine was in the passenger seat and her younger sister in the back. Although I was wearing a seat belt, neither Christine nor my sister-in-law was wearing one. The purpose of the trip was to visit my father's grave and place Christmas wreaths. My father is buried in Retford, Nottinghamshire. We were driving across the Pennines from Huddersfield, Yorkshire. As I was driving round a right hand bend near the village of Penistone, the car left the road. I suddenly found myself driving on a bumpy grass verge, which runs parallel to the road. To retain control of the car I held onto the steering wheel with both hands, my feet braced and supporting my weight. My left foot was on the floor but my right foot was on the accelerator (gas) pedal, which was pressed to the floor. Consequentially the car was accelerating. I was not able to change position and realized a crash was inevitable.
The car bounced along the grass verge, I was aware of oncoming traffic and concerned we would have a head on collision. I remember silently exclaiming, 'Oh Christ.' Then, I began to pray in earnest that if someone was to be injured or killed it would be me because of my bad driving. I saw coming towards the windscreen a plank of wood. It was moving very slowly, end on to my line of sight. I was convinced it would penetrate the windscreen, strike me in the face, and kill me.
My perception of motion had speeded up a hundred fold. As I realized I was about to be killed, a sensation as of a swirling vortex began that enveloped my whole body, which then concentrated in my head and I exited my body through the top of my head. I literally flew out of the top of my head. I found myself travelling in an upwards direction in total darkness but with a marvelously wonderful sense of wellbeing. I was cocooned in what I perceived to be a spherical form. My initial thought was, 'If this is being dead, I like it.'
The joy of freedom from my body was as intense as it was immense. I perceived I was travelling at great speed but I had no references by which to measure how fast it was. I was being cared for, looked after, I felt very secure. I was travelling towards some place I was not aware of. Then suddenly, I became aware of a light. The light was small and circular and grew larger as I approached. It grew in size as I was looking and travelling towards it. Then a voice came from the disc of light. The voice was very authoritative, commanding but not intimidating. The command was, 'Go back.'
Instantly, I found myself back in the car with a pain in my face. I had only suffered a black eye. Christine had a collapsed lung for which she had to stay in hospital; also, her head had struck the windscreen and was bruised from the impact. My sister-in-law had suffered a cracked vertebra. My sense of loss at being back in my body was too great to describe, tempered by the relief that Christine and her sister were relatively unharmed.
Together with Christine's father, I checked the condition of the car on Christmas day. It had come to rest in a pasture after entering it through a gateway in a heavily built dry stonewall, typical of the fields of those parts, which paralleled the grass verge. The course of the car along the verge was about 150 yards. The car was a write-off, the windscreen had popped out in one piece, all the tires were flat and the driver side 'B' pillar was sheared off at the base and bent parallel to the car roof. It is inexplicable how the car travelled along the grass verge for 150 yards and then made a sudden right turn through a gateway into a pasture. It is as though the car was guided to its end position.
I understood the disc of light to be representative of Jesus in the form he takes when truly present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar. A consequence of this experience is that I don't have a fear of death. When in deep silent prayer my head shakes slightly and it is as through my being/consciousness is knocking on the inside of the top of my head trying to, unsuccessfully, get out becoming one with Blessed Trinity. One could say that it is a sensation reminiscent of the NDE experience, but not of nearly the same intensity. I yearn for heaven; the older I get the nearer I am to enjoying this reality.
Life is a rocky road on the way to the house of our Father. The only career worth pursuing is to return to the house of our Father. The name of the road is called Love, which is a decision to be gentle and kind, but it can, depending on the circumstances, feel like crucifixion. This is what Christians understand by the cross and carrying the cross. Nothing in this life is worth the loss of heaven.
During my first pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia) on 18th October 1987, immediately after receiving Holy Communion I heard the following words audibly 'Jesus is inside you.' These words were spoken in a voice like tinkling crystal. A voice that is as unforgettable as it is difficult to adequately describe. I mention this event because, for me, it is a continuation and reinforcement of the NDE I experienced in 1971. My reaction to hearing the words was: I wept with joy, because God is real, all that is written in Scripture and recorded in the Tradition, understood, and taught by the Magisterium through the light of the Holy Spirit is true, it is not a fairy tale, it is all true.
A further consequence of the NDE experience is, when occasionally, I suffer anxiety I go to Mass and receive Jesus in Holy Communion. As Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, under the appearance of bread and wine, melts into me the anxiety melts away. The first time this phenomenon occurred was during a hard period our business was enduring in the difficult economic period in the early 1990's. I was gripped with an anxiety that was physical in its intensity, gut wrenching. I prayed throughout the whole day for relief. I was very conscious this anxiety seemed to be a lack of trust in God, and in his providence. I longed for the end of this particular working day to be able to attend Mass in the Friary chapel, because I thought that as soon as I enter the chapel the anxiety would leave, but it didn't. I then thought that when the Mass begins it would go, but no. Then I thought the anxiety would go at the consecration, but no, the anxiety I felt was still at its full physical force. The anxiety only left me when I received the Sacred Host at Holy Communion. As Jesus melted into me, to become one with me, the anxiety melted away. I was elated, overjoyed. The difficulties associated with the company remained but the anxiety was gone. I know Jesus is with me, in me, guiding me through all the difficulties of life.
Date NDE Occurred: 24 December 1971
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident 'Life threatening event, but not clinical death'
See first paragraph of main narrative below.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? From the moment things speeded up until I was back in my body again.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
See main narrative.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? No
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: Light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes See main narrative.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? See main narrative.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Incredible peace or pleasantness
Did you have a feeling of joy? incredible joy
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Moderate
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes They have developed. Prior to the experience you could say I believed but without firm conviction. It did not inform the way I lived. Today, I have the gift of faith as enunciated by St Paul in his letter to the Romans, Ch. 11 verse 1. Faith, is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist See (3) below
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes They have developed. Prior to the experience you could say I believed but without firm conviction. It did not inform the way I lived. Today, I have the gift of faith as enunciated by St Paul in his letter to the Romans, Ch. 11 verse 1. Faith, is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? No
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I have gradually become much less self-centered and more loving.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes I occasionally have a sense that something will happen and it does.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? All of the experience holds meaning for me.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Many years after the event I told my wife. It was an intensely personal experience and I did not care to open it up to ridicule.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? No
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real I could not get over the joy, founded on reality, it gave me. Also see main narrative.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real See main narrative.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes See main narrative.
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? It has been life affirming and life changing.