The other day I posted notice of the passing of one of the nation's most prolific and profound writers on culture and religion, Richard John Neuhaus. I admired him very much and his death is a great loss. So that you might understand a little more of the man than what was included in my previous post I invite you to read this column by David Brooks that my friend Stephen forwarded to me. All of it is worth reading, but this passage, where Brooks quotes Neuhaus describing an experience he had in the hospital while recovering from his first bout with cancer, was particularly interesting:
Much later, Neuhaus endured his own near-death experience. An undiagnosed tumor led to a ruptured intestine and a series of operations. He recovered slowly, first in intensive care, and then in a regular hospital room, where something strange happened.
"I was sitting up staring intently into the darkness, although in fact I knew my body was lying flat," he later wrote in an essay called "Born Toward Dying" in his magazine, First Things. "What I was staring at was a color like blue and purple, and vaguely in the form of hanging drapery. By the drapery were two 'presences.' I saw them and yet did not see them, and I cannot explain that ... .
"And then the presences - one or both of them, I do not know - spoke. This I heard clearly. Not in an ordinary way, for I cannot remember anything about the voice. But the message was beyond mistaking: 'Everything is ready now.' "
That was the end of Neuhaus's vision, but not his experience. "I pinched myself hard, and ran through the multiplication tables, and recalled the birth dates of my seven brothers and sisters, and my wits were vibrantly about me. The whole thing had lasted three or four minutes, maybe less. I resolved at that moment that I would never, never let anything dissuade me from the reality of what had happened. Knowing myself, I expected I would later be inclined to doubt it. It was an experience as real, as powerfully confirmed by the senses, as anything I have ever known."
I encourage you to read the whole piece.RLC