The first book is about a man who was in a coma while completely on life support and the second is about a soldier who died for nine minutes. Each of them share the experiences they had while suspended from their earthly bodies and while each book is very different, there are a lot of commonalities between them. From the things I believe about the afterlife I believe that both are equally plausible and can work in harmony with each other.
Tuesday was my neighborhood book club (it was my first time going and I really had a good time! I love the ladies in my ward!) and we discussed these two books. One commonality that I love is the theme of love and compassion from our Savior. I have heard a few after-death experiences from people and they all seem to remember an overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance from the Savior who showed no judgment for their past mistakes. It was the guilty party that, when they reviewed their life and how their decisions impacted others, judged themselves. Both books also stressed the necessity for us to treat others with that same compassion by joyfully loving and serving our fellow man without restraint.
Another thing I really liked in The Message, is that he talked about how he was met by family members on the other side of the veil and he learned that, often when we are inspired to do something, or are protected from something, it is a family member on the other side who is there whispering to us or protecting us. In Return from Tomorrow he also describes people in a type of hell who are linked to this earth because of addictions, attitudes or behaviors. He describes another level above those consumed spirits that is filled with other people, reaching down and trying to minister to the spirits bound by their behaviors but the spirits don't notice the people ministering to them because they are so intent on back-biting or trying to get a smoke or another glass of alcohol. It occurred to me that, if I combine the perspective from both books, maybe the ministering people are also family members of those addicted spirits.
While we were speaking about family members ministering to us while we are on this earth I had an interesting thought about the car accident Casey and I were in as we moved here from Texas.
We were barely 15 minutes from our apartment, our car loaded down with the remainder of our earthly possessions when we were broadsided by another car going 30-40 mph. The car hit us right in the center of our wheels, crushing my seat and me along with it. The accident should have been a really bad one as Casey and I were told by the guy who towed our car. The tow guy didn't think that whoever had been in that passenger side would be walking around anytime soon and was amazed to find out that I was the passenger. I escaped with three staples to close up a cut in my head, a bruise on my right calf and a sore body for days. Casey wasn't hurt in the slightest.
It truly was miraculous and I have often thought that there was a guardian angel watching over Casey and I that day. I think saying a prayer asking for safety before we left on our trip and keeping our temple covenants also helped to protect us. While we were discussing these books in book club the idea came to me that maybe it wasn't just a faceless guardian angel. Maybe it was my Grandpa Utah who died less than six months before that. Maybe my Grandfather was taken from this earth life at just the right moment so that he could fulfill other work on the other side, and maybe a part of that work was making sure that Casey, me and the 14 week old baby in my tummy were safe from harm.
It is comforting to believe that our guardian angels have familiar faces and spirits that we are already acquainted with in some way.
There were a lot of other interesting points and impressions I gleaned from these two books but I won't spend too much time blogging about it. I would highly recommend reading them for yourselves though! They are short, each of them around 150 pages with large print, and they have some really neat things in them.
One thing is for sure, so many people have near-death experiences and come back to share messages with loved ones and their experience with the public- there is definitely more for us after this world.
Life does not end at death. And reading books like these makes me reflect on this question- am I prepared for the afterlife?