Some time ago, we heard from a viewer, Deacon Victor Taylor, who was given Last Rites when he suffered a severe heart attack while sitting in a pew at a Catholic church in the Atlanta area.
As it turns out, Deacon Taylor was rescued by emergency responders who had to administer electric shocks twice to get a pulse — and at that, a very weak one. According to medical records, his heart had stopped for twenty minutes. This occurred at Saint Michael the Archangel Church in Woodstock, where he serves.
No matter what it looked like, no matter how unconcious, to those urgently gathered around him — trying first with CPR, before the responders arrived — he never actually lost consciousness.
Like others who have near-death experiences, Deacon Taylor, it seems, felt more aware than usual — than ever.
“I have no idea I was dying,” he writes, recounting it in the present tense in a book called The Light of Your Face. “I have no sensation of pain. As I am sitting in the pew, I see light flooding all around and through me. It shines through the pews and the floor and the ceiling like everyone and everything is glass. I am becoming absorbed into it.
“The Light makes itself felt to me as pure Love. This Love isn’t unfamiliar. There have been times in my life when I felt love for someone that was completely selfless — for my children or for my wife following removal of a bone tumor — only now, I am the recipient of that Love. It is powerful. It is overwhelming. I feel myself being lifted up.”
Before him, Deacon Victor saw a large table and thousands and thousands of lights joined one to another by filaments of luminosity. That ethereal luminosity seemed to be spreading out as it passed from one point of light to another.
“At first I don’t know what I am seeing,” he writes, “then I am given to understand that I am looking at my whole life — every person I ever had, or would, encounter. I am not seeing it as I would see it — but as God sees my life. Each person is like a luminous being and each relationship seems like light flowing from one to another.”
Imagine viewing your life that way — how light goes between you and others!
It gives us an entirely new perspective.
The light is love. God is love and love is light and God loves with His Light — and also vivifies us with it: gives us our very existence.
So light is also life. What a picture Deacon Taylor draws!
“I can see all of it at once,” he says. “I can see every relationship I have ever experienced — no matter how brief. There are thousands of people in my life, not just mom, dad, my brothers, my dear wife and children — but everyone: the clerk at the store, the gas station attendant, people passing on the street or in the subway — everyone.”
And so it is that this man of the Church, a Catholic clergyman, needed no words; he witnessed the effect of every encounter in his life. He saw with God’s Eyes. “If I act with kindness or love, I can see how that love moves to the other person,” he writes. “It persists and moves from them to others.
“If I refuse to act with love, I can see the opportunity that is lost. Something like darkness is there instead. I feel such pain in my depth because I refuse to offer in return a tiny portion of that Love which is loving me so profoundly — refuse the chance to multiply God’s gift of Love. I also see how the Love that loves me, loves me through others. Even in the darkest moments of my life, I see the choice to be His person, to act out of love.”
Keep this in mind every day in every interaction with — and thought toward — others. No matter how brief. The main thing we are “judged” upon, this testimony says — as do countless other such near-death testimonies — is how much we have loved. When we love, we cleanse ourselves. We give alms. This Lent, purify through love. It’s all you need. It redounds to eternity.
The words of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta come to mind: