In celebration of the life and creativity of my father, Tom McClellan, who passed away this last Saturday, August 3rd, I will be publishing some excerpts of his work. The following is an essay from his book “Reflections from Mirror City”:
Reflections VI, A – Valentine’s Day
December 21, 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
I was given respite this morning from the grey, vague bird of grief that’s been after me since Mom died. First, I woke up deciding to take the day off from will hunting and concerns of probate, the mailing of death certificates, how best to handle the estate. Next, when I got to the all-nighter for coffee, one of the regulars, whom I know well enough to call by first name and tell him that my mother had died, said, “I know where she’s gone, and it’s a better place,” which led to our talking about out-of-body experiences. He’d been officially dead for ten minutes in Presbyterian ICU.
Unofficially, he looked down on his body, felt sorry for whoever that fellow was, sensed that he was being judged, told “There’s no reason for you to be afraid,” enveloped by a spectrum-spectacular light show that became a tunnel through which he traveled at the speed of light into a black void, enveloped by a brightness like looking into the sun–then found himself back in his body where people were jump-starting his heart with fibrilators. And his body hurt.
Just before he reentered his body, he was told not to forget what he’d been through in the Beyondness. Despite the speed at which he traveled through the tunnel, he could see that “It was kind of like bars.” Another man who’d been through the tunnel asked me, “Did you notice – those walls are woven of light.”
For me, the brightness in the beyond is Light, a sort of supernatural neon that leads into a source of pure Love and Joy, brighter than the sun.
For my fellow I-Hop regular, the Light was a source of Peace.
We agreed that if you could base a theology on such experiences, it would be as simple as Star Wars mythology. There is a Force in the universe with a bright side and a dark side. You can be with it. We are here to learn to love and love to learn.
My coffee communicant and fellow graduate of trips into Beyondness had a distinct feeling of being judged, the sense that he could have gone some other where. During his time in the service, he had nearly been killed and just as the common phrase says, seen his life flash before him. Maybe he got the visual the first time, the mental the second time.
We also agreed that the experience is very nondenominational. You make certain choices with regard to God. Whether you are a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Baha’i or a Buddhist scarcely matters, much less whether you are baptized by total immersion or by water dipped to trace a cross on your forehead.
You make certain choices. I had chosen for the first time to pray, not by rote but by faith in a God I did not know was there–you know, Pray. And, as a result of those decisions, I asked the Universe where love comes from, then found myself traveling through rings of Light out the back of my head into a five second glimpse of what my fellow traveler got the ten-minute tour of.
And the answer was, “God is Love.” Simple question, five-second trip–including a float over trees and rooftops, glimpsing my rooftop outlined in Light, then back in my body with–simple answer.
You make certain choices. A poet friend of mine was in his twenties when he entered the Light. He and his roommate had argued to the point where they decided to let the disagreement go and meditate. The meditation brought them both into Light and connectedness. “Did you see that, that light?” he asked his roommate, who answered, “Yeah.”
“For days afterward,” said my friend, “I could not make a mistake. I skidded through a red light once, and I’ll swear, the cars parted to let me through.”
We get from the Beyondness what we seek and what is appropriate to us, at that time. For the poet this satori of sorts was a matter of being twenty, and it became for him another town along the road. For me, at thirty-two, it was a religious conversion that tore my marriage to shreds.
And a presagement of a Beyondness into which I gaze from time to time–I’ve seen my wife of sixteen years become a body of Light for a moment walking down the hall; and on my tongue felt the great silent power of that Sun Invisible in the form of a communion wafer. We get what we need from the Beyondness.
My cafe companion, in hit late forties, received from Beyondness a preparation for moving into it. “You can go back to school,” he said.
And we agreed that such experiences are watershed experiences. You don’t forget them any more than you forget your first love. You are changed in no small way.
Faith comes easily afterward. You have no fear of death.
I thanked him for reminding me of that part. I had been missing Mom so much I’d forgotten where she is.