“Wow! What a wipeout!”

“Wow! What a wipeout!” April 23, 2024


Interpreter corporate HQ
The Interpreter Foundation’s central headquarters building
Just visible in the distance to the left, with red walls, is one of our principal branch offices. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

As happens several times each week, something new has yet again been posted on the never-changing website of the Interpreter Foundation:  Come, Follow Me — Study and Teaching Helps (2024): Lesson 18, April 29-May 5: Mosiah 4-6: “A Mighty Change,” written by Jonn Claybaugh

Editor’s Note: Four years ago, Jonn Claybaugh began writing the Study and Teaching Helps series of articles for Interpreter. We now have these wonderful and useful posts for all four years of Come, Follow Me lessons. Beginning this year we will be reposting these articles, with dates, lesson numbers, and titles updated for the current year’s lessons. Jonn has graciously agreed to write new study aids for those lessons that do not directly correspond to 2020 lessons.

In fact, a second thing has gone up on the perpetually moribund Interpreter website:  “The Book of Mormon in Context Lesson 18:  “A Mighty Change”: Mosiah 4-6”

In the 7 April 2024 Come, Follow Me segment of the Interpreter Radio Show, the program hosts Brent Schmidt, Hales Swift, and Martin Tanner discussed Book of Mormon lesson 18, “A Mighty Change,” covering Mosiah 4-6.  Their conversation has been recorded, edited to remove commercial breaks, archived, and placed online for your listening pleasure and edification.

The Interpreter Radio Show can be heard on Sunday evenings, every single week of the year, from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640.  But you can also listen live on the Internet at ktalkmedia.com.

Earth from Space
A composite NASA (public domain) image of Earth

I would like to share with you now four of the passages that I marked during my reading, some months ago, of William J. Peters, with Michael Kinsella, At Heaven’s Door: What Shared Journeys to the Afterlife Teach about Dying Well and Living Better (New York and London: Simon and Schuster, 2022).

The is a story from the author himself, William Peters.  As a teenager, he went with his friend John on skiing trip to the area of Lake Tahoe, where, on 29 December 1979, he had a severe ski accident:

Everything went dark and silent.  It was as if the electricity in my body had been turned off.  In my next moment of awareness, I realized that I was staring down at my physical body covered in snow.  Then I began to move away from my body and the earth and head into the sky.  It seemed natural and comfortable.  My newfound vantage point showed me the Squaw Valley ski area, and then Lake Tahoe, and then all of Reno.  As I rose higher, the San Francisco Bay, the Colorado Rockies, and then the continental United States all came into view.  Then the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and eventually Planet Earth, which I recognized from satellite images.  At that moment, I understood that every interaction mattered greatly — every word, every action, every thought left an indelible imprint.

Then I found myself hurtling toward a brilliant, luminous golden light.  I consciously recognized that I was dying and felt the devastating realization that I had wasted my life.  I pleaded with the light, which I identified as God (having been raised Catholic, I associated the light with God), “Please don’t let me die!  I haven’t finished my work in this lifetime!  Please!  Let me go back!”  My trajectory started to slow as I was embraced by this warm, loving, all-knowing, living light.  I stopped in its midst and received a message: “Make something of your life.”

Next I felt an inexplicable push and I found myself spinning back to earth.  Everything now rushed in reverse: all the beauty of this played itself out backward.  I wondered how I would ever get back into my body, let alone find it.  Then the mountain loomed before me.  I was aware of the snow surrounding me, but I couldn’t feel my limbs.  I pleaded, “Please don’t let me be paralyzed.”  A subtle surge of energy course over me.  The sensation was much like standing under a shower head and feeling the spray of warm water hit the top of my head and then travel along my body.  As I started to wiggle my fingers and toes, I opened my eyes and saw snow crystals resting on my goggles.  My mind was still but I was overcome with gratitude.  Then I heard the sound of skis sliding toward me, and John suddenly exclaimed, “Wow! What a wipeout!”  (10-12)

Seeing one’s own body is very frequently reported in such experiences.  Soaring into the heavens also has parallels, though it is far less common.  The “brilliant, luminous golden,” “warm, loving, all-knowing, living light,” is mentioned in a very large proportion of near-death and related experiences.

The second story is told from the perspective of “Stephanie L.,” whose husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 1999.  They were living at the time in Washington DC.  He was only in his fifties, but he was given just six months to live.  Finally, he was admitted to the hospital for a final time, and. placed in a hospice room.  She stayed with him in the room, and, she believes, witnessed his passing:

Stephanie could interpret “everything” he said, even though there was no verbal communication.  The best word she has is “telepathic,” the sensation that she could read his mind.  “I know this is going to sound strange, that we communicate with that energy without having to speak.  But in that space, we are all so connected that we don’t have to use the archaic way of communicating that we as humans have set up for ourselves.”

Of the entire experience, she says, “It felt very comfortable.  It felt as if I were going back to something that I already knew.  It’s like when you learn math, and you start off with addition and subtraction.  You always know that two plus two is four.  It’s embedded in your brain.  That’s what this felt like.  It was an all-knowing feeling.”  (98)

What Stephanie described as a “telepathic” mode of communication is quite common in accounts of near-death experiences.



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