Death, Where is Thy Sting?

© Copyright 2009, 2010 by Joel R. Hall – All Rights Reserved

Although it might sound like fiction, this is a true story. Strangely enough, this story starts with my death. Yes, my physical death. Granted, I didn’t stay that way, otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this now. No, I only got to pay a little visit home before being sent back here to complete my purpose. Part of that purpose is the writing of this story.

I will attempt to fulfill that part of my purpose as accurately and completely as possible. Having said that, I can not guarantee that my memories are 100% completely accurate. The best I can do is avow that I have striven with every once of my being to recount them as accurately and honestly as humanly possible, and I can attest that the essence of the story has been accurately preserved.

Before I begin, let me simply and clearly state that practically every experience or event described during the time in which I was not inhabiting my body is, at best, a pale metaphor. It is simply impossible to accurately describe what I experienced in terms that are directly analogous to the “normal” experiences processed by the brain of a living human being. My “senses” while dead were somewhat similar to those we employ while in a living human body, but would best be described as augmented. And, since human languages were created to describe the experiences collected through the sensory organs of living bodies, they therefore prove woefully inadequate when trying to describe experiences gathered through these augmented senses. Consequently, please bear with me as I struggle to describe my experiences while body free, knowing that my description will be, at best, an approximation of what I experienced. And now, the story.

It all started around 10:30 A.M. on Thursday, October 28, 1976. At that time in my life, I was a confused 18 year old from College Station, Texas. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and had elected to take a year off between high school and college to “find myself”. I was living at my parent’s house and had taken a job selling men’s blue jeans at the J.C. Penny store located in the Manor East Mall of neighboring Bryan, Texas. I had arrived at work around 9:45 A.M. to start my shift at 10:00. As required, I was dressed in suit and tie, which I thought an odd thing to wear when selling jeans, but, rules are rules and my boss, Mr. M, was nothing, if not a strict adherent to rules.

Mr. M was around 35 to 40 years old, fairly tall, balding, with a bit of a middle age paunch. To the best of my ability to tell, there were two groups of people he detested. The first group was college students. I suspect that he envied them their future once they had a degree with which they would quickly bypass men like himself on the corporate ladder. The second group, which he detested even more than the first, was college age kids that weren’t in college. In other words, me. I worked hard for Mr. M, but no amount of effort was ever enough. If I cleaned the changing rooms and returned all the stock back to the racks in perfect order, he would nonetheless complain that I had taken too long or that I had left too many pins lying about the dressing room floors. In short, he made my life while at work as miserable as possible. In his defense, I suspect he was trying to do me a favor by giving me a reason to quit that dead end job and get enrolled in school.

At any rate, my shift began in the standard way. I had ensured that the changing rooms were clear and ready and went about ensuring that all the stock was properly sorted on the racks. Along about 10:20, a beautiful young coed from Texas A&M University approached me asking for help. She explained that she had been trying to find jeans in the Lady’s Department but since none of them fit her the way she liked, would I mind helping her to find a pair of men’s jeans in a specific size since in the past, men’s jeans in that size tended to fit her better than any pair of lady’s jeans she had ever tried on. I must admit that my enthusiasm for this task was a bit higher than usual due to the striking beauty of this lovely customer. I took her over to the racks and began to search for the specified size. I quickly concluded that we did not have any in that size on the floor, but I was positive we had them in our warehouse. Assuring my customer that I would be back shortly, I headed for the warehouse door. Once through, I headed for the farthest corner of the farthest recess where the jeans were kept. Our warehouse had an unusual L shape with one of the arms being rather long and narrow. It was down this narrow arm that the jeans were kept. I remember thinking to myself as I wound my way between boxes heading for the jeans area that “I could die back here and no one would find me for weeks”. Little did I know at the time how close I came to having that thought become reality.

Once I arrived at the boxes of jeans, I began to dig in the box that I knew contained the size requested. It was a rather large box, being almost a perfect yard cube, about half full of jeans. I was bent over digging through the contents when a very odd thing happened. Suddenly, it felt as if someone tapped me very lightly on the back of my head, right at the crown. This was odd for two reasons. One, there was no one else around and two, it would have been extremely difficult for anyone to reach that spot with the way I was bent over. But the sensation was very distinct and surprised me so much that I started and stood up very suddenly. The moment I stood up, however, I realized that something was wrong: VERY WRONG. I instantly felt absolutely terrible. I was, quite literally, deathly ill. The room lurched and I became so weak that I feared I would collapse on the spot. My recent thought about dieing in that dark recess rang in my head and the fear it evoked in me gave me the strength to struggle back toward the entrance. It was slow going. I was weak, dizzy, and disoriented, but somehow I managed to get back to the entrance and reenter the store. I staggered through the aisle back towards the jeans department, clinging to clothing racks, shelves, counters… anything to help me stay upright. I finally made it back to my area and saw Mr. M standing with his back to me having a conversation with another associate. It was my good fortune that they were right next to my department for I fear I would not have lasted long if I had needed to search for him.

As I approached, I spoke with a drunken sounding slur: “Mr. M, I don’t feel very well.” The moment I spoke, I could see the red rise up the back of his neck and his shoulders clinch. He whirled on me, exposing a red faced mask of disgust and anger, ready to unleash what was probably an angry exposition on my need to get back to work. I will never know what it was that he had originally intended to say, however, since upon seeing me, he froze in place while his expression changed quite rapidly from anger to astonishment and then to what almost looked like fear. It was as if he was looking at a ghost. During this transformation, he uttered not a word, but when he did finally speak, he uttered the one phrase that none of the stunned associates within earshot had ever thought him capable: “Good God. You look terrible. Go home right now.” If I had not felt so totally out of it, I probably would have laughed at the stunned looks of amazement on the faces of the other associates. But upon looking from him to me, they also adopted the visage of those gazing upon a ghost. I must have looked REALLY bad.

I stumbled through the jeans department, through the passage into the employees “lounge”, checked out, and stumbled out of the building to my car. In reality, I stumbled to my sister’s car. Of all the “coincidences” that occurred during this sequence of events, the fact that I was driving my sister’s car that day was probably one of the most unlikely. Given the condition I was in at the time, there would have been absolutely no way I would have been able to drive a manual transmission vehicle. I barely had enough coordination left to start the car. So it was somewhat miraculous that I wasn’t driving my manual transmission ’72 Bug.  Instead, due to some sort of quantum flux in the space time continuum surrounding my older sister which had occurred the previous weekend, I was driving her automatic transmission ’74 Monte Carlo.

To this day, I can think of no logical explanation for this. All I can do is relate the basic scenario. My Bug was actually a hand-me-down from my older sister via my older brother. It had been her first car given to her as a gift by my grandparents upon the occasion of her 16th birthday. She had driven it until her graduation from high school in 1973 at which point, my grandparents gave her a new Monte Carlo as a graduation present. It was a shu-wweet ride: V8, plush seats, power everything… I loved that car. But I had never been allowed to even sit behind the wheel, no less drive it, in the entire time she owned it… until that week and never again afterward.

She had been visiting from Houston the previous weekend and out of the blue asked if I would mind trading cars with her so she could “drive the Bug for old times sake?” I didn’t hesitate. We traded keys and I found myself cruisin’ around town in the car of my dreams. But what I still do not understand is why. It is not now and was not then the sort of thing my sister would do. It was just plain weird. But for whatever reason, the car I found myself driving on my delirious way home from work that day was a ’74 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and not a ’72 VW Bug. Granted, I had no business driving anything. I was far worse off then most drunk drivers would ever be. I should have been riding in an ambulance, not piloting a car.

Somehow, I managed to turn left out of the parking lot onto Villa Maria road and made it all the way to where Villa Maria dead ended into Finfeather. The last thing I remember from that drive was passing over the railroad tracks that ran between Welborn Rd and Finfeather and then stopping at the blinking red light. The next thing I remember was waking up in the driveway of my Mother’s house with the engine still running. I must have driven the rest of the way in some sort of stupor, because I have absolutely no idea how I got home. At the time, I was too disoriented to worry about it, so I just turned off the car and staggered into the house.

Once I entered the house, I was beyond the point of being able to think straight. I was quite literally on death’s doorstep. I couldn’t even think to say anything to my mother who was washing dishes as I passed through the kitchen toward the living room. All I could think of was to sit down somewhere before I fell down. So I shuffled through without saying a word and collapsed into an easy chair in the living room. My mother remarked that I was home early for lunch and asked me what I wanted. All I could manage to get out was “I don’t feel good.” Upon hearing this, she turned off the water which had been running in the sink and came out of the kitchen drying her hands on a dish towel. As soon as she saw me, her face got that “seeing a ghost” look and she immediately shifted into Dr. Mom mode. I will never forget her placing her still damp hand on my forehead to check for fever. She told me later that she knew something was very wrong when she saw the moisture from her hand evaporate off my forehead in an instant. After telling me that I was “burning up”, she proceeded to retrieve two aspirin and send me to bed.

Somehow I managed to stay on my feet long enough to make it into my room and even get my clothes off. I don’t remember doing it, but I must have for I ended up in bed wearing only my underwear. I collapsed on the bed and managed to pull the covers over myself before completely passing out. I immediately descended into a very deep sleep. In fact, I descended so deeply that I came out the other side: I died. I don’t know how long I slept before my death. It must have been at least thirty minutes but it could have easily been over an hour. I simply don’t know. All I do know is that at some point not too long after I lost consciousness, I came through the other side of unconsciousness into a whole different kind of consciousness.

It happened gradually, rather like waking up slowly after a nice night’s sleep. The first thing I can remember upon “waking” was an awareness of total stillness. Up until that moment, I had never realized exactly how much our sleeping brains process all sorts of stimuli. It’s not like our bodies turn off the inputs while sleeping. It’s more that our brain chooses to ignore the vast majority of that input. Of course, a loud, sudden sound or other extreme input will indeed cause our brains to restore us to consciousness, which just goes to show that the inputs are indeed working. But I had never realized exactly how much we really are aware of our surroundings while sleeping until that moment. Indeed, we see, hear, smell, feel, and taste even while deeply asleep. But when I “woke up”, for the first time in my experience, it was absolutely silent, absolutely dark, absolutely still.

At first, I didn’t realize what was going on. I realized that I was conscious in that I could clearly think and assess my situation, but I couldn’t quite figure out why I couldn’t sense anything. All I knew was that I was awake and I was completely cut off from everything and seemed to be hovering in absolute darkness. I really didn’t have an opportunity to process this state of affairs, however, since almost instantly, my still state was interrupted by an odd sensation unlike any I had ever experienced before. So odd, in fact, that it defies description. The closest I have ever been able to come is to liken it to the drawing sensation created by holding the hose of a vacuum cleaner up to your skin. I felt like I was being drawn out of my body, most specifically out of my head. The result was that I suddenly found myself “lying” on the ceiling of my room staring down at my now still body.

It was a very odd experience to look down upon myself. In my previous life, I would have imagined that I would be upset or frightened by that sight, but in that moment, all I felt was peace. I had absolutely no emotional upset whatsoever. In fact, it was perhaps the greatest sense of peace I had ever experienced. I can remember quite clearly gazing upon my lifeless body and thinking to myself, in the most ordinary, matter of fact way, “I’m dead.” To give you some sense of the “tone” of my inner voice when thinking this, it would have been about the same tone used to say something like, “Hmmm, grass is green.” On the other hand, something odd was going on in my consciousness: multitasking. I remark on this since, like most men and unlike most women, I rarely, if ever, multitask. But it wasn’t just multitasking in the normal sense of that word. This was mega-multitasking. It wasn’t just that I was able to process two, three, or even four things simultaneously. It was much more than that. It went beyond processing thoughts. I was suddenly able to observe everything around me all at one shot. It was like spherical awareness and this awareness was not constrained by physical barriers, either. I could see through things which allowed me to see my body through the covers but simultaneously see the covers over my body. It was very wild!

While I was looking at my body, I was also examining the house around me. In a single instant I noted that I was alone, which mildly surprised me since my mother and grandfather had been home when I had collapsed into bed. In that single instant I “saw” that they were gone and that my grandfather’s car was no longer in the driveway, and I saw EVERYTHING else concerning the state of the house and grounds instantly. My brain processed this information by focusing on those things that were most important from my perspective, but I was acutely aware that I could “see” everything, or at least, choose to be aware of anything I wanted.

After a brief period, I once again felt that vacuum cleaner sensation, except this time it was drawing me through the ceiling. In an instant I found myself in a very dark, very still place, much like it felt while still in my body with the exception that I had the sense that this space was much larger. After a very short moment of dark stillness, everything changed. I felt as if I were accelerating at a VERY high rate through the pitch blackness. It was like no acceleration I had ever experienced before and had me, even in the midst of the sensation, wondering how it was that I could possible “feel” acceleration since I didn’t seem to have a body and I had always assumed that it required a body to “feel” acceleration. Be that as it may, that was exactly what I “felt”. This sensation went on for a LONG time, which eventually led me to wonder how “fast” I must be going since such a long period of such extreme acceleration would surely mean that I was going way faster than any object I had ever heard of in the “real universe”. In fact, I was wondering if I had not left the speed of light far behind and was now hurtling at unimaginable speeds. But that was just conjecture as I had nothing else to occupy my thoughts at the time. For some reason, I don’t ever remember questioning where I was going. I know that sounds strange. It even sounds strange to me, as I would previously have assumed that would be the first and foremost thought in the mind of someone freshly departed, but for whatever reason, it never even crossed my mind.

The dark acceleration went on and on until I began to think it would never end. With no light, it was impossible to gauge my speed or determine if there was anything whizzing by me. Just at the point when I finally began to wonder if I was going to simply accelerate forever, a very, very, very small (atomic) white dot suddenly appeared as if suspended in space in front of me. Before I had time to think or in any way react, the dot suddenly exploded into a round “portal” much like the end of a tunnel. This happened so fast, that I could only barely perceive it and in the next instant, the acceleration and darkness were gone. I had emerged into the highest expression of wonderful, beautiful, fascinating, astounding, fabulous, amazing, awe inspiring, indescribable place / existence / community / presence / totality / Love that exists. I was overwhelmed, overjoyed, peaceful, excited, amazed… I knew immediately who I was encountering. The Joy and Love that flooded over me in that moment were infinite. There are no words in any language sufficient to even come close to describing who and what I experienced in that Now. Nonetheless, I will try.

The closest analogy I can come up with for what I experienced upon exiting from the dark acceleration tunnel is that it felt like being a fish awash in an infinite, living, sentient Ocean of Light and Joy and Love. The Ocean had the appearance of liquid crystal filled with the purest Light imaginable. However, it would be inaccurate to describe the Light as being separate from the liquid crystal of the Ocean. The Light was the liquid crystal.

And much as crystal on earth refracts light in such a way as to appear filled with a rainbow of colors, so too was this Ocean filled with glints of rainbow colors. And what colors they were! Every color you have ever perceived with your earthly eyes was indeed present, but these were but a small subset of all the colors flashing through the Ocean. The sheer range of hues was beyond imagining. And these glints of color were not merely a trick of refraction. They were alive! They lived in the Ocean and the Ocean lived in them, but they were distinct from the Ocean. In fact, I myself may have been one of these glints. (I don’t know for sure since I never thought to look at myself.)

And the glints were more than just light. The Ocean was filled with music which seemed to emanate from the glints. Each one had it’s own tune and yet somehow managed to blend perfectly with a symphony comprised of the sum of all the disparate glint tunes. And the colors emitted by the glints varied with the music in such a way that the collection of the colors of the glints also combined to make a grand pattern similar to the music. Combined, the symphony of music and light created a synergy of light and sound that redefines the idea of music. As if this combination of aural and visual coherence were not enough, I could also “feel”, “taste”, and “smell” the musical color symphony. This is, of course, makes no sense from the perspective of how our bodies process colors and sounds in our earthly experience, but in the Crystal Ocean, it made complete and perfect sense. In fact, I instantly realized that our earthly experience is actually a dim shadow of the augmented senses of the Crystal Ocean existence, as if putting on flesh hides from us the true nature of our senses.

The effect of this was almost overwhelming in it’s beauty and power, but even as I floated in dumbstruck awe at the sheer fractal beauty of it all, I was simultaneously fully aware of the fact the the Ocean itself was alive. It was more than alive. It was Life. And emanating from the Ocean and from the glints was a warm, glorious, palpable feeling of Love. I had never known the meaning of Love until that moment. I felt fully accepted, fully appreciated, and fully understood. Of all that I experienced in that initial flood of stimuli, that was the most powerful. I was flooded with Joy and Peace and a sense of echoing the Love back to its source. It was wonderful!

I recognized the Ocean. I had sensed that Love to a smaller degree on Earth. It was my Lord, the redeemer of my life. I was home at last.

I don’t know how long I floated there soaking in the experience before the Ocean communicated with me. It could have been a second. It could have been a lifetime. Time made no real sense in that Now. All I know is that communicate with me the Ocean did.

I use the word communicate because this wasn’t speech in the sense of what we use to communicate on earth. It was somewhat like speech, but really more like thought, conveying much more than spoken communication could ever do. There was absolutely no ambiguity and each meaning, much as the music, affected all the senses. This was palpable communication. However, for the sake of this account, I will refer to this as a conversation using the words of speech, such as said, heard, spoke, etc. This is simply a convenience to convey the meanings without constantly having to try to describe the sum of all I experienced as that would be too cumbersome. What follows is the small bit of conversation I remember with Yeshua’s words in italics. In addition to the words, I am including the emotions that accompanied them in parentheses. Be advised that some of what I write here would normally be considered internal dialog only heard by me, but in this setting, it was all part of my dialog with Him. The conversation started with Yeshua speaking my name.

*** begin 1st remembered conversation snippet, beginning with Yeshua ***

Joel… (Very warm and full of Love, but also somewhat amused.)

Yes. (I love you too! Wow! This is great! I’m so glad to be here! etc)

We have much to discuss before you return. (Gentle, concerned, and consoling.)

What?!? Return?!? I just got here! I’m not going back! (Angry, hurt, scared.)

*** end 1st remembered conversation snippet ***

As you may have noticed, there isn’t much to this “conversation”. The reason for this is quite simple: the conversation was much longer but I can’t remember anything else specifically until the very end. This is very hard to explain. I know we talked. I know it was a very long conversation. I know that the topic was my life: past, present, and future. I even can vaguely recall some of the emotions I experienced during that conversation. I simply can not remember the specifics. The closest analogy I have ever been able to come up with to describe my memory of that conversation is to liken it to a long letter written in ink upon a sheet of paper which was subsequently dropped in water, causing the ink to run and smear to the point that it is possible to tell that there were indeed words written on the paper but impossible to make them out. You might be able to pick out a word here or there, and might even be able to discern the topic, but anything beyond that simply can not be retrieved. The next bit of conversation that I can specifically recall was when He said to me:

*** begin 2nd remembered conversation snippet ***

And now it is time for you to return. (Gentle. Happy. Proud. Encouraging.)

(Happy. I knew I had chosen to go back. Anticipating. Determined. Filled with purpose.)

*** end 2nd remembered conversation snippet ***

I did not respond. There was no time. The moment He concluded His last statement, I was instantly rocketing back into the tunnel. The portal instantly shrank to an atomic white dot and then was gone. The whole trip back down the tunnel was exactly the opposite of the initial passage: a strong sense of deceleration that lasted for a very long time until, at last, I came to a complete stop. After a brief moment of stillness, I once again experienced that drawing sensation and shortly found myself back on the ceiling gazing once again upon my unmoving corpse.

It’s funny. That image is burned into my memory. My body was lying on its back with the right leg straight, the left leg bent and splayed slightly outward with the left foot up against the right calf, the left arm straight against the left side, the right arm bent with the right hand resting on the stomach, and the head turned slightly to the right.

I hovered there for a brief time before the drawing sensation began, and just before my augmented vision of my body faded into the blackness inside my skull, I saw the smallest flicker of movement from my heart. I was once more “alive”. I remained conscious inside my skull for a while, mulling over what I had just experienced, and then slowly “fell asleep” except in this case, it was more like rising than falling.

If that had been the end of the experience, then I might well have written it off as an extremely vivid hallucination brought on by my high fever (or from lack of oxygen), but thankfully, Yeshua was not finished teaching me yet.

I slept for a while (I don’t know how long) before entering a dream state unlike any I had experienced before. In this dream state, I once again found myself completely “conscious” but not awake. It was a very odd sensation because I knew that I was asleep but was able to think and analyze just as I normally do when awake.  (While writing this, I visited dictionary.com and saw that the word of the day was oneironaut which is defined as being ‘awake’ in your own dream. It literally means dream traveler. What a coincidence.) As soon as I “came to” in this state, a dream of sorts, more like a movie, started. This was a very odd experience because the me that was watching the movie was totally and completely aware that I was watching the me that was in the dream movie although the me in the dream movie had no idea he was being watched or that indeed he was in a dream at all. Again, this is one of those things that simply can not be adequately described.

The dream started off by demonstrating God’s quirky sense of humor. Allow me to set up the joke. The day of my death was only a few days before the Presidential election of 1976 between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. At the time, Ford had managed to narrow the substantial early lead held by Carter to the point where the race was considered a dead heat. I was a big Ford supporter and was convinced that Ford would win. Of course, in hind sight, we all know that Carter won the election. The dream started off by revealing to me that Carter would win, but that’s not the funny part. The funny part is how it was revealed. If you have ever seen 1940’s era movies, you have probably seen at least one that used newspaper headlines to advance the story line, usually by having the newspaper swirl down and splat with the headline revealing the pertinent information. Now, I was a big fan of many of those movies, and that was exactly what I saw. A newspaper swirled down and, SPLAT, “Carter Wins Election” read the headline! It was very funny, because the awake observer me that was watching the dream movie literally screamed “NOOOOOOOOOO!!!” in the darkness of my mind. And then another swirled down: “Carter Inaugurated.” By then my primal scream had subsided as the reality of what I was watching sank in.

Then the papers faded and I was left staring at a long period of pitch black. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but I did know that the darkness was intentional. The only clue I had to the darkness was that I felt sad watching it.

Then the darkness was dispelled with the on-screen striking of a match which was used to light two candles on a birthday cake. A frosted “Happy Birthday, Joel” inscription was on top, but the thing that struck the awake observer me was the candles. I had never in my life, up to that point, seen any type of candle used on a birthday cake except the standard thin tapers so common that they had come to be called “birthday candles”. But the two candles on this cake were different. They were much bigger and thicker and were shaped like the numbers “2” and “7”. (I don’t know when number shaped candles were introduced to the market, but I have always wondered if I could have patented the idea upon my recovery.) The message of the image was quite clear: I was seeing my 27th birthday cake.

The cake faded directly into a view of a church sanctuary. It was a beautiful sanctuary, which I had never seen before, with a striking pipe organ array above the choir loft. The dream movie “camera” was positioned in the back of the sanctuary and as the awake observer me watched, I realized that a wedding was going on. At the front of the sanctuary, I could see a broadly smiling groom standing between an array of groomsmen and bridesmaids looking back towards the “camera”. In that moment, I realized that the groom was me! As I was reeling from that revelation, a bride appeared on the screen walking away from the “camera” toward the groom accompanied by a man that I presumed was her father. I, of course, was struck with the overpowering desire to see her face, but alas, I could only see what the “camera” showed me and so was left with only the view of her back as she walked down the aisle. The awake observer me immediately realized the significance of the birthday cake fading into the wedding: I would be married at 27 years of age.

The wedding scene then faded to reveal the image of a baby wrapped in a blanket. (I would love to say that I was observant enough to claim that I absolutely noticed that the blanket was blue, but in all honesty, I did not at the time take note of that detail. However, when I later recalled the scene, it was my impression that it was.) Then another blanket wrapped baby faded in to the right of the first. (Again, I did not note the color of the blanket, but similarly got the impression that it was blue.) The sight of these two babies had a powerful emotional effect on me as I watched, and somehow, I don’t know exactly how, I knew they were my boys, that the first would be born in my early thirties, the second would be born in my mid thirties, and that their names should be Joshua and Jeremy. Notice that I say “should”. In that moment I simply knew that no other names would be right for them. The funny thing about that is that I had never known a Joshua and had only known one Jeremy and I didn’t even like the Jeremy very well. But there was no doubt in my mind that these should and would be their names.

Then the scene shifted to reveal an image of my head and shoulders as they would be seen in a mirror, but the me in the mirror was middle aged. It was very odd for the 18 year old me to see the middle aged me with greying temples and glasses, especially since I did not need glasses at that age. I also noted that I appeared to have put on a few pounds. I wasn’t exactly pleased with what I saw, but then again, what teenager would ever be happy with seeing a middle aged image of themselves. I was relieved to see that I still had all my hair. Actually, the thing I didn’t know in looking at the image was something I considered to be a crucial detail: my age. I knew that I would be roughly 45 to 50, but that was as close as I could guess. I had no revelation to guide me in this. This is significant, however, since the dream movie took a dramatic turn immediately after this image causing me to spend the next 30 years of my life in anticipation of the significance of the timing of that image.

Then the image faded and the tone of the dream movie drastically changed. Up until that time, the dream movie had simply been a series of small glimpses into my future life in a very literal sense. The only exception had been the dark period, but even that proved to be relatively literal. But now the movie totally shifted gears and became extremely symbolic with no clear interpretation available. I knew this even as the awake observer me watched. I state this here to prepare you for what follows and to warn you against forming too swift an interpretation as to what the rest of the dream means. To this day, even I only have a vague understanding of what might be the proper interpretation. Please bear this in mind. You have been warned.

The image of my face in the mirror faded and was replaced with an image of an ageless version of me standing with his back to the camera in a large, arched, stone hallway. I specify ageless because this image of me almost looked like an idealized CGI version of me, but I knew without doubt it was me. I also knew that this was intentional and carried a symbolic meaning. Upon seeing this image of the movie me, the awake observer me instantly knew that the movie me knew that this hallway was part of a global building from which there was no exit. (Global, in this context, means that it covered all the land.) Further, both of me knew that the walls of this building, including those of this hallway, were extremely thick. Lastly, both of me knew that I must get out of the building immediately.

Without hesitation, the movie me walked over to the wall on the right and began running his had over the wall as if feeling for a weakness or a seam. In short order, movie me seemed to find the spot he was looking for and immediately placed the tip of the middle finger of his right hand against the stone and, to the surprise of the awake observer me, began to shove the hand into the rock. This was incredibly painful!

The odd thing about this dream movie was that the awake observer me could feel everything that the movie me felt and in this case, the pain was indescribable. As my fingers pierced the rock, the effort peeled the nails and flesh off of the bone. I had felt some excruciating pain in my life but I had never felt anything like that. To the amazement of the awake observer me, the movie me did not stop or even flinch at the pain, but instead continued to gouge into the rock while the flesh fell away. After a short time, which seemed like eternity due to the pain, the movie me had managed to gouge out a baseball sized piece of the wall and nonchalantly tossed it over his shoulder.

Immediately upon tossing the baseball sized rock, the flesh that had peeled away began to regenerate so that after only a few seconds, the hand was once again whole. The awake observer me was astounded but the movie me didn’t even seem to react. Instead, he simply repeated the process, although this time the flesh fared slightly better and the pain, while still excruciating, was not quite as bad. The result of this second scoop was a roughly softball sized chunk of wall which was also nonchalantly tossed followed by an even quicker regeneration of the flesh.

Again, the process was repeated with even less flesh tearing away and slightly less pain, resulting in a basketball sized chunk. This was tossed, the flesh regenerated and the process continued. With each scoop, the flesh tore less, the pain diminished, and the chunk grew larger, until finally, on the last scoop, the flesh seemed as hard as diamond and cut through the rock like it was butter. Movie me had also been growing stronger with each scoop, so that this last scoop was about the size of a full size sedan and probably weighed many tons, but he had become so strong that he removed it like it was weightless and tossed it lightly over his shoulder. When he did, he had at last managed to excavate a passage through the wall into the outside world.

The “camera” showed movie me stepping into this passage from the inside of the hallway and then the camera angle shifted to the outside of the wall. The opening to the freshly excavated passage was clearly visible and opened onto a small yard surrounded by the building. Observer me knew that movie me knew that there were only a few of these scattered about the entire world building so the choice of where to excavate had not been random. From this new camera angle, I watched as movie me stepped out of the passage into the yard, but as movie me emerged into the light, observer me could see that movie me was transformed into a whole new type of being. In fact, movie me was no longer strictly physical. You might say that he was metaphysical, having the ability to manifest a physical presence, but having no strictly defined size or shape. He was, at least in terms of this universe, unlimited. He did not need air, could pass through matter, could occupy the space of a quark or a star or even the entire universe, was not affected by gravity, could not be injured or captured or killed. He was completely immune to the physical laws of this universe.

Upon stepping free of the building, movie me looked down at his new form and seemed to take stock of the changes at the same time that observer me was doing the same thing. The best description I can give of what I “looked” like at that point is that I maintained a roughly human shape but with only basic discernible features. I had what looked like two legs and arms, but no real hands or feet, although both of me knew that I could form hand or foot like appendages at will. For that matter, I could choose to take on the shape of an octopus or a bird or any other familiar animal, plant, or item. At the time, I had what looked to be a head, complete with small, dark eyes, no nose, and a small mouth. The head was mounted on a slender neck above what looked roughly like slender sloping shoulders. The overall appearance was somewhat reminiscent of a seal and was covered from head to toe in what appeared to be an extremely fine, sleek “fur”. This “fur” is very hard to describe. First of all, it wasn’t fur. It simply looked like fur but had a texture more like that of dolphin skin. The color is very hard to describe as it was actually somewhat translucent and very difficult to actually focus on. The best description I have ever been able to give is that it was somewhat reminiscent of the color of a mourning dove: light grey with glints of pink, purple, green, and blue that seemed to be in perpetual motion. In fact, the effect of the glints was strikingly similar to the appearance of the Crystal Ocean.

Upon seeing this creature, observer me immediately dubbed him “the Grey”. I don’t know if this popped into my head from having been a huge Tolkien fan or not, but I do know that this name seemed absolutely correct. So, for simplicity, I shall henceforth refer to movie me as the Grey.

After a moment of self inspection, the Grey leapt into the air in what can only be described as a dance of exultation. He flew up through the atmosphere faster than any rocket all the way out into space. Pausing there, he gazed back on the earth for a brief moment, taking in the building and the ocean, before plunging back down through the atmosphere and into the ocean all the way to the deepest depths. Then he resurfaced and flew above the face of the earth in order to begin the work that would fulfill his purpose.

At this point I need to break from the story to explain something that has bothered me for years. There is only one detail in this story that I have ever felt any confusion over and that has to do with who the Grey was and whether or not he was alone or had companions. The reason this is confusing to me is that the observer me never directly saw others like the Grey, but when I later recalled the dream in a fully awake state, I had the distinct impression that there were six (or possibly five) others like the Grey, each of a different color. That’s where the confusion comes in: I’m not absolutely sure this is accurate, but to the best of my understanding, the Grey was one of seven (or possibly six). Each of these had a region of the earth that they were responsible for. Since I am not totally, 100% clear on this, I will restrict my description to the actions of the Grey with the understanding that there may well have been others doing the same thing he was doing. Now back to the story.

The Grey flew over the North American section of the building. The observer me was able to examine the structure of the building at this point and I could see that it was comprised of very large, roughly hexagonal shapes which reminded me of a honeycomb. The Grey positioned himself over the hexagon enclosing the approximate area of Texas. He reached forth his “arm”, simultaneously reshaping it to terminate in a huge hand-like appendage that fit perfectly over the hexagon. Grasping it, he lifted it gently out of the building and then did something I absolutely can not accurately describe. While still holding it up with this huge appendage, he simultaneously entered the suspended building section in a somewhat human form and walked through the corridors singing. Many of the people in the building started to follow him, but the majority acted like they couldn’t even see him. Once he had traversed the entire section, he lifted all those that followed him out of the suspended section and placed them on the hexagonal open ground below where the suspended section used to sit. Then he tossed that section “over his should” in similar fashion to the way the gouged out rock had been tossed. I don’t know exactly what happened to it other than that it was gone from the scene. The open space where he had placed the people became known as “The Grey Haven”. (Observer me actually laughed at the irony of this name in light of “The Grey Havens” in the Lord of the Rings.)

The Grey then went about collecting people from the rest of the building. (I don’t know if this meant the whole building or just the North American portion of it.) Once he had finished gathering all the people that responded to his song and placing them in The Grey Haven, the powers that controlled the building suddenly became aware that their building had been breached and that many people had escaped from their control. Infuriated, they sent armies gushing from the building to capture or kill all who were there. When this happened, my dream movie presaged a CGI effect to be used in a real movie that would not be filmed until many years later: Star Wars Episode I. In that movie, there is a scene where a droid army attacks a group of rebels on Naboo. In that scene, the rebel army produces a huge, gel looking “force field” around their forces to protect them from the droids. In my dream movie, the Grey becomes just such a force field. He encompassed all of the inhabitants of The Grey Haven in a bubble which was his presence reshaped for that purpose. Unlike in Star Wars, this force field actually worked in that the armies could not pass through it to harm those inside. The bubble was semi-transparent, however, which means that the armies could see those inside, but just could not get to them. This resulted in the armies on all sides attempting to fire into the bubble in order to kill the occupants. This, however backfired, as the weapons, thus fired, simply passed all the way through to the other side to wreak havoc on the armies located there. This resulted in massive damage to the armies on all sides before they finally realized what was happening and ceased fire. Once they ceased fire, the Grey knew that it was time to go and in an instant, gathered all the people, placed them on his back, and flew up through the atmosphere. Once they entered the clouds, all the people on his back instantly transformed into beings just like the Grey but of different colors and joined him in flying up into space.

Upon exiting the atmosphere, a near complete sphere of like beings could be seen surrounding the earth. The Grey, along with all the other beings ascending from the Earth, filled in the gaps of the sphere making it complete. In sad silence, they watched as the Earth erupted into warfare which grew progressively worse. The sadness felt by the beings in the sphere was almost overpowering to the observer me and seemed to fill all space and time with a deep longing for what could have been. Finally, acting on a single cue from the Spirit, all the beings shouted out together in a harmonic note of astounding power. In response to this blast of sound, the Earth exploded and disintegrated.

Then I woke up! I was still very, very ill and was no doubt delirious from my high fever, but the thing I was mostly was scared beyond description. I don’t think I have ever felt fear so strongly as I did in the instant of my waking. In my disoriented state, I was convinced that the end of the world was at hand and that I had been left behind. I struggled from my bed and wandered around the house calling out for anyone. After a short period of panic, I remembered that I had seen that I was alone while dead and realized that my mother had probably taken my grandfather to his doctor’s appointment. This allowed me to calm down and go back to bed. Once I lay back down, I went immediately to sleep.

As I mentioned earlier, I fell ill around 10:30 A.M. on a Thursday. I remained very ill, running a high fever and unable to eat or drink, all through Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and even into Sunday morning. During this time, I don’t think my temperature ever dropped below 102 Fahrenheit. When I did try to eat or drink, it came right back up. Most parents should probably have taken me to the E.R. very early during this period, but I was the son of a veterinarian who seemed convinced that any illness could be cured at home with the proper dose of tetracycline. At any rate, I languished in my ill and delirious state until early on Sunday when I had another very vivid dream. Unlike the previous dream, this one was very short. The whole dream consisted of the image of a humongous orange. In my dream, it appeared to be the size of a house and in my dream, I could smell that orange with an intensity that was overwhelming. As that smell washed over me I suddenly had the greatest food craving I have ever experienced. It hit me in a palpable wave while still immersed in my dream and stirred me so profoundly that I immediately awoke to full alertness as if I had been catapulted from dream to wakefulness in one instant. So rapid was the transition that I could still smell the orange and the craving was wrapping itself around my insides like a boa constrictor.

When I awoke, it was around 10:15 on Sunday morning. I sat up in bed and immediately began calling for my mother at the top of my lungs. The urgency in my voice brought her literally running into my room. Upon entering, she immediately asked me what was wrong while simultaneously reaching out the back of her right hand to feel my forehead. But before she could say more or even touch me I blurted out “Do we have any oranges?”

The question caught her off guard and she stopped dead in her tracks with a look of confusion on her face. After a moment’s thought she replied, “Yes, I think we have a few, but…”

“Good!” I interrupted. “Get them for me.”

I must have had a slightly lunatic look about me because my rude insistence upon having the oranges brought at once caused my mother to adopt a look of extreme concern and to complete her motion to feel my still quite feverish forehead. After assessing my fever, she stepped back and said, “You are still burning up and with the way your stomach has been acting, I think you aught to eat something a bit more bland.”

With every passing second, the boa constrictor of my orange craving further tightened around my stomach. I was becoming desperate! “Mom! Just bring me the oranges! All of them!”

She tried again to object but I would not hear of it. “Mom! Bring me the oranges!”, I insisted.

Finally, she gave in. With a roll of her eyes she turned to leave saying, “Let me see what we have.” She left the room still muttering leaving me to wrestle the boa. The craving was now so strong I could barely contain myself. After what seemed like an eternity, she returned saying, “All we have are these three”, and brandished the oranges, two in her left hand, one in her right.

As she approached, she said “Here, let me peel one for you.”, but as soon as she entered range, I snatched the orange from her right hand and practically shoved it down my throat, peel and all. I wish the scene had been captured on video because I’m sure it would have evoked howls of laughter to any that saw it. I must have looked like some sort of insane, starving monkey, snarfing down that orange whole with my shocked mother looking on, mouth flapping open and shut as she tried to speak through her disbelief at what she was watching. By the time she collected herself enough to say “Aren’t you going to peel that?”, the last of the orange was disappearing into my engorged mouth.

In answer, I simply grabbed the two remaining oranges and proceeded to stuff one in after the first. My mother was aghast at my behavior. From the look of fear and concern on her face, I suspect she truly believed I had taken full leave of my senses. This didn’t really register with me at that point, however, as my mind had ceased to process anything but the need to feed the orange craving boa in my gut. And so, as my mother continued to object to my feral eating behavior, I continued to send those poor innocent oranges into the maw of the beast that had taken up residence in my stomach. Within seconds I had devoured the second orange and had started on the third, while a river of pulp filled juiced coursed down my chin and throat. I didn’t care one bit. I have never tasted anything so wonderful as those oranges tasted in that moment. It was heavenly!

And then it was over. As I swallowed the last bite of the last orange, it was as if I suddenly awoke from a bad dream. My fever, aches, and nausea  that had been the definition of my existence for the last three days was suddenly and completely gone. If it hadn’t been for the sticky glazing of pulpy orange juice covering my face, chest, and abdomen, it would almost have been as if the illness of the previous 72 hours had never existed.

Again, I would have loved to have this on video as I suddenly swung my feet out of bed and said to my mother, who still had that “I need to call the sanitarium” look on her face, “I feel great. I’m going to take a shower.”

The effect of this pronouncement on my mother was immediate and profound. Her look of fear and dismay deepened. She placed her hand on my shoulder to stop me saying, “Hold on right…” but the sentence faded away as the evidence of my now cool skin sank in from where she was touching my shoulder. The look on her face went from fear to puzzlement to surprised delight in a matter of seconds as she confirmed my lack of fever by placing both her hands on my forehead. Her shock at my sudden lack of fever and apparent health sent waves of puzzlement, amazement, and joy across her face as she confirmed and then confirmed again that all fever had fled. She even made me wait while she got a thermometer to verify that I was totally fever free, but I knew without a shadow of doubt that I was completely and totally well. In fact, I have rarely felt so healthy as I did in that moment.

Finally, after Dr. Mom had completed her exam, I departed my sick bed for the shower while she removed the sweat and orange juice soaked sheets for washing.

I don’t pretend to understand exactly what that was all about. I can only report what happened to the very best of my memory. All I know is that I fell deathly ill on Thursday, October 28, 1976 at around 10:30 A.M., died sometime later that day while lying in my bed at home alone, left my body, traveled into a Crystal Ocean of Light and Love that I recognized as my LORD, had a long conversation with that Light, returned to my body, had a prophetic dream about future events in my life, lay seriously ill until having a strange, powerful dream about an orange on the morning of Sunday, October 31, 1976, awoke with an overpowering craving to eat oranges, and, upon eating three unpeeled oranges, found myself suddenly and completely cured of my illness at around 10:30 A.M.

As to the events of the prophetic dream, every single one of them has come true. This is even more remarkable when you realize that I, like Jonah, tried to run away. I desperately wanted the dream to be false and consequently attempted to deliberately sabotage the dream. The irony is that every effort I made to avoid the events told in the dream actually contributed to them coming true. Here is a synopsis of how each prediction in the dream was fulfilled:

  • Carter elected / inaugurated – happened despite my vote for Ford.
  • Darkness – Represented a period of profound depression and rebellion which I went through in my early twenties as a result of my trying to “flee” the dream. I did not realize the meaning until after it had passed.
  • Birthday / wedding – I had yet to graduate from Texas A&M due to a major change in my career direction at the age of 23. Up until then, I had been an education major specializing in math, but then I took a computer science course that changed everything. That course ignited a fire in my heart that made me realize that I would never be happy teaching. I changed into Computer Science and took a Coop assignment with McDonnell Douglass working at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. After my three terms at JSC ended, I returned to school in the fall of 1983 at the age of 25 and decided I wanted to join the Century Singers. In order to join, each candidate was required to be interviewed by a committee of existing members. One of the committee members was named Susan Grubbs. She had the most gorgeous, big, brown eyes that I had ever seen. I made a mental note to ask her out. We soon started dating. A few months later, in December, I went to visit her at her parent’s house in Houston. While there, I attended Church with them and got an odd feeling of de ja vu when I enter the sanctuary for the first time. There was something SO familiar about the impressive pipe organ at the front, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. In January of 1984, I proposed and she accepted. It wasn’t until much later that I realized where I had seen that sanctuary before. It was actually my original intent to “break the dream” by getting married early in 1985, before I turned 27, but it wasn’t to be. The first date available to get married at her Church was on May 25th, 1985, not long after my 27th birthday. I don’t remember my 27th birthday party well enough to recall what the cake and candles looked like.
  • Two babies wrapped in blankets – I woke up from the dream with the impression that they both would be boys and that the first one, Joshua, would be born in my early 30’s while the second would be born in my mid 30’s. I tried again to “break the dream” by having a child before I turned 30. Nope! Turns out Susan and I both had fertility issues. In fact, the first doctor she saw about this told her that she would never be able to get pregnant. We were devastated, but a part of me was secretly smug that the dream was now broken. Wrong! I accepted a job with IBM in Tucson, Arizona a year later. While there, we were referred to a fertility specialist that assured us that he would “get us pregnant”. Sure enough, he was as good as his word. On July 17, 1989, my son Joshua was born only 3 months after I turned 30. My wife wanted another, so we were treated by another doctor in Houston where we had moved and on May 17, 1992, my son Jeremy was born, slightly a month after I turned 33.
  • Face in mirror – On Saturday, October 28, 2006, while living in a hotel room in London, England for a month on work assignment, I was standing in my tiny bathroom after shaving in preparation to go on a walk through the streets of London. I had taken off my glasses while shaving and looked down to put them on, after which I glanced back up at the mirror for a final inspection before leaving. The moment I looked in that mirror, I had the most overwhelming sensation of de ja vu I have ever experienced and I immediately knew that I was looking at the last prophetic image from my dream. It was 30 years to the day after I had died.

As to the meaning of the rest of the dream, I honestly don’t know. In fact, I may have to wait until I get to return to the Crystal Ocean before I fully understand it, although I suspect that meaning may already be working its way out in my life. Whatever it is, I’m not at all worried about it. After all, it’s all in His hands.

© Copyright 2009, 2010 by Joel R. Hall – All Rights Reserved

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About Joel Hall

Onward through the fog!
This entry was posted in Affidavit, Autobiography, God Dream and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Death, Where is Thy Sting?

  1. Pingback: God Dreams | Simply Put

  2. Pat Cegan says:

    Joel, I will try to write what has been happening as I read your story. At one point, I had to stop and go out to sit by the floresta as I feel that through your words, I have been looking deeply into the awakening that is reportedly going on now. All you said about what this experience means to you is true but there is so much more to it…and it affects mankind. There are descriptions here that I believe describe how we will be, how some have already started becoming as mankind makes the evolutionary transition. I am writing this minutes as I finished reading your story so have not had time to wrap my mind around this. I need that time and will come back to you later. I have no idea who you are but there are no coincidences in my life and I know you are part of a web of Light that is being formed by us around the world. I honor you before our Creator for your role and for your courage to share all of this. Hugs, pat

  3. Bhaga says:

    The first time I read this I couldn’t find the button for leaving a comment, but this time i finally saw it!
    I just left one comment on your beautiful latest post, ‘Heaven’, and said already a lot there, that was actually about this post of yours here, but now I’ll add this directly here:
    I second entirely all that has been said above by Pat Cegan, another especially dear soul – only, instead of the floresta, it is in my case the vast expanse of the ocean in front of my terrace, and the still vaster expanse of the sky space above it that are (outwardly) my silent retreat if needed in such intense moments!…
    Would you authorize me to mention your blog in some of my posts, and even possibly to quote relevant extracts of what you write, for example from this amazing ‘Death, where is thy sting’?

    • Joel Hall says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I have no problem with anyone quoting my writings with proper citation and welcome links to my posts.

      • Bhaga says:

        Thank you, Joel…
        With a big smile,
        Bhaga
        P.S. Do you know that ‘old’ film, ‘Chariots of Fire’?… I just wrote an enthusiastic post about it, perhaps you would like to read it?

  4. Marian says:

    Wow. So glad you shared this. I am moved to tears, at a loss for words… God bless you. Thanks

  5. Pingback: What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us | Joel Hall: Simply Put

  6. Pingback: The Evidence of Things Unseen | Joel Hall: Simply Put

  7. nobuko2016 says:

    I found you! Now I can use this for my own reflections. Thanks for sharing Joel.

  8. Lora Flinn says:

    That was an amazing story. The feeling that you felt were so similar to the ones I felt when the Holy Spirit came over me. I was not near death but I was in a very desperate time.

    Isn’t it wonderful what we have to look forward to.

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