Touched By Wonder

Transforming Experiences

 By Lynn Russell

From her book  The Wonder of You

What follows is the introduction to her wonderful book, but her introduction is like being touched by wonder as well. Lynn has given me permission to use what in the book is called Prologue – A Spiritual Experience; but it can be what it says if you are open to it.

Her book is also an open door to the wonders revealed by the enormous number of people have died and come back to tell us of their experiences. I have read the statement that no one has ever come back from death to tell us, and they use this as an argument that death is the end. It is a most stupid argument and shows that they have never bothered to look – in fact Lynn’s book is based on her study of at least 2500 cases of memory of the wonder – yes wonder – of their life after death. But her  words – the book – in a way is not about death but about life, its extra-ordinariness and yes – to be touched by wonder.


The world of spirituality was for me a confusing disarray to slosh around in my search for truth. I think I was born with an overactive curiosity gene and there were so many directions presenting themselves for my investigation. As strange as it may seem, although I was raised in a home that knew no religion, my greatest interest is spirituality. It was fortunate I was raised in a nonreligious home as there were no preconceived ideas of the truth and I was completely free to explore to my heart’s content. No one told me what not to think, and no restricting ideas of how the world should look were pushed in my direction.

As each philosophy came my way I freely picked it up, turn it this way and that, and rattled it a bit to find out what was inside. I dug down to each religion’s origin and scrutinized the various components it encompassed until my unbridled curiosity was satisfied and became free to move on in another direction. Being raised in a Judeo-Christian country, I naturally explored those disciplines first and discovered the foundations of the faiths my personal world had been built upon.

Once I understood the history and development of these religions and how they had evolved as they had, I carefully put them away and looked into the Christian offshoots: Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the Salvation Army, and Fundamentalist Baptist to name a few. At the time, I tried bumping my head against the Eastern philosophies but my teen self could not imagine a world where personal possessions were not important. Let’s face it, I was the normal Western teenager and quite frankly thought those guys were nuts. Interestingly, years later I went back to those beliefs, and can now see the beauty and depth of the Buddhist path.

Was I just curious or was I on a search for somewhere I would feel at home? It did not seem to matter and over the years I found many fascinating concepts within each expression of the spiritual as that deep place within drove me onward to find answers. Why do I exist? How does life happen? Is there a higher power? If so, what role does he/she/it play in our lives?

By 1973 I was a recently divorced, single-parent mother with three small children. I had returned to school in the hopes of getting a decent job and providing a home for us. It was spring and I had finished my second year at college and was looking forward to summer’s promise of hot sun and a time to relax, before going back to another year of study. That is when I received a gift that took me by the hand and led me into the deeper understanding I was seeking.

It was a quiet time at our house as Leah, my oldest daughter, was now in grade one, Brad, the middle child, attended afternoon kindergarten, and Wendy, the youngest, was tucked away for an afternoon nap. At the time this new adventure began my hands were stuck in hot, sudsy water as I mechanically washed dishes. Suddenly, as if my mind were taken over by a strange force, I completely lost awareness of where I was and what I was doing. From the window above the sink the crab apple tree in the backyard seemed to stretch out to me. Oddly, the tree had me in an embrace that revealed a bizarre new reality. Understanding, which was beyond questioning, overwhelmed me and I knew, deep in the core of me, that the tree out there and I were one, we were inseparable. In a way I could not comprehend I indisputably knew the tree and I had become indivisible; we were a single being. As I flowed along on this current of experience a bottomless pool of knowledge surrounded me, I somehow knew deep in my gut the essence within the tree was the same essence as was in me. We shared a strange inexplicable bond.


Delight and understanding rushed through me and I was filled with wonder. Within that happiness a contented feeling told me everything was in its proper place and all was as it should be.

Unaware of the suds dripping on the floor from my hands, I stood mesmerized while other forms of life went through my mind. Fish and whales in the ocean, lions and elephants in the wild—all shared that same life. I actually became the bird sitting in the tree, and at the same time, I was the bug the bird was about to eat. We were one single entity expressing itself as life on this planet. The form each life took was irrelevant as I became completely enmeshed with the essence of that oneness. In that state it was impossible to define where the other forms of life ended and I began, because there were no differences, no separations. Then, within a microsecond, I became aware of the physical world around me and the water dripping on the floor. This happened before most of North America had heard of the term Oneness.

It was also a time when baby boomers were engrossed in a search for spirituality. Many had turned away from the formal churches and were exploring the meaning of life. The Beatles visited ashrams and Friedrich Nietzsche’s claim “God is dead” became a familiar chant. It is difficult to say how long I was caught in that alternate reality, perhaps a minute, possibly less. It is not surprising that the effects of that experience offered me a lifetime of learning. Up to that moment I had sought understanding through the established faiths. Now another route to spiritual answers opened to me. I knew the world was not a bunch of separate beings busily living life. I understood that deep in the core of us all, an amazing connection waits to be recognized.

The fact I did not yet understand what had happened was not a problem and gave me fodder to chew on in my quest for the truth. As it turned out the experience with the tree was the first of a series of parallel events. A few days later during another quiet afternoon I busily spot-washed fingerprints from the hall walls. The quiet house had lulled me into a state of peaceful contemplation of nothing in particular. Without warning, once more my awareness seemed to be taken over by a powerful force. Seconds before I had been washing marks off the walls, suddenly I was intensely immersed in the awareness of an atom. Without trying to capture my thoughts and return them to where they had been, I allowed them to float in this curious direction.

Before me was an atom with its nucleus and electrons spinning around the core. It was as though each element possessed an independent consciousness and knew exactly what it needed to do and got busy doing it. The planning and order within the atom dominated my awareness. Once my recognition of what I was seeing entered my consciousness the image transformed as though seeing a new scene in a movie. I was looking at a representation of our solar system whirling in the darkness of space. The sun contentedly sat in a semi-stationary position while the planets busily spun around it in a perpetual game of tag. Once more my attention seemed to be directed to the deliberate order, rhythm, and intelligence behind what I was viewing. Let me clarify; it was not as though an external brain was operating our solar system, like a wizard with a wand. It was that this mental capacity was permeated within the solar system itself. Inexplicably, deep within was a part of me that realized I already knew this and was simply being reminded that none of what I was seeing was the result of a lucky accident. Once more the scene expanded from our local solar system to the Milky Way galaxy as it spun in a golden pirouette along with sister galaxies that spun together in an amazing pattern of synchronicity. Again I knew that none of this was an error. Nothing, not a single thing, had mistakenly come to be.


As I delighted in this new understanding a realization overtook me that kept me reeling in wonder for many years. No voice spoke, yet the knowledge swept through me implanted itself in every cell of my body.  The message was so powerful I was immobilized to dispute or deny its meaning. “Your being is intricately connected with the operation of the universe!” it told me.

I could not deny the truth of what I had just learned. It was as real as the Earth I stood on, as real as my children, or my own name. Yet a part of me instantly wanted to reject the message and I was caught in a struggle where disagreement was not possible. The message rang too true to debate but it scared me with its implications.

Confusion dominated as the experience faded and left me standing in the hall with a wet rag in my hand. But, I argued, I don’t have delusions of grandeur.  I was completely convinced that when it came to the universe I was smaller than a speck of dust, smaller even than a photon. So how could my being have anything to do with the operation of the universe?

If this information had come to me in a dream or as one of my own thoughts, I would have been free to dismiss it. Yet the manner in which it came seemed to deny me that option. I think it was the realization of the truth of what I had been told that scared me most. If I accepted this universal connection what would be expected of me? Would I be responsible to do something I was sure to mess up? I had lived my life as a retarded person, and had only recently discovered I did not belong to that assessment. Still, the experience and accompanying information, seemed to come from a source beyond disagreement.

A few more days passed before I had the third and last of these strange events. In contrast to the confusion and fear of the last communication, this final experience brought with it great serenity and joy and deeper understanding.

Even now I do not fully understand what happened as I was led into a world of mystery and incredible joy. As I stood in the middle of the living room on a quiet afternoon, my arms filled with retrieved toys, I became acutely aware I was not alone. I could actually feel a palpable, literal presence in the room with me. My eyes saw nothing more than the room and furnishings, yet I knew deep in my gut there was “someone” there. I hesitate to call the presence sharing the room a being or person because no being I knew could cause what happened next.


I felt engulfed in an enormous blanket of love, peace, and joy that was beamed at and into me from every direction by this mysterious force. It felt so good that I simply allowed the experience to wash over me in the hope that it would last forever.

Then, as though an umbilical cord were situated in the center of my being, I felt a direct connection to the invisible presence. Somehow I was intricately connected with it in a way I did not understand. Happily, I basked in the pleasure of the never-ending love and peace. And it was then I heard actual words.

Unlike the information I had received earlier where impressions and thoughts were poured into the center of me, this time the words were clear and as open as a sweet child’s face. They were spoken directly into my right ear with unmistakable clarity: “This is where you came from and this is where you will return.”

Then as ripples in water calm to nothing the experience was over and I stood alone in the room with no presence, no voices, and no blanket of love and joy. Yet the feelings that remained kept me in a state of bliss for months. I could have walked through a meat grinder and come out smiling at the other end. Nothing bothered me. The children’s high-pitched noises usually set my nerves on edge. Not during those months. They could make silly noises all they wanted, and I simply existed in a world of pure serenity.

Before this final experience I had been terrified of dying. My mom believed that once a person died he or she simply disappeared. There was no confusion or theology to confound the situation we were nothing more than biological beings, and when that gave out, so did we.

That was exactly what I was terrified of I did not want to vanish into nothingness. I wanted to have meaning and purpose and the idea of being nothing more than a piece of quivering biology sent a shudder down my spine. With the last of these amazing and mysterious experiences a new piece fit into the picture and I stopped being concerned about death. I may not have fully understood how it worked but I knew with complete surety that when I died I would continue to exist.

A secondary change happened after my spiritual experiences. All my life I had been a serious nail biter. My nails were gnawed back so far that my teeth couldn’t get a hold on what was left. When I ran out of nail I moved on to chewing the skin around the nails. They were definitely ugly and often bleeding. After these beautiful experiences, one day I looked down at my hands and realized I had nails. Without being aware of it I had stopped biting them and it just seemed to happen on its own.

It took many years for me to put these spiritual events together and make coherent sense of them. Gradually a picture of the Oneness became clear and I began to understand a new reality. Books on spirituality began to make sense. Two that stood out and gave me guidance were A Course in Miracles,[i] which talked about forgiveness, letting go of the ego, and seeing ourselves as beautiful beings. Joel Goldsmith’s Parenthesis in Eternity[ii] talked about our connectedness with all that exists. Since then additional studies have verified and strengthened what I had learned from my personal experience.


[i]  Helen Schucman and William Thetford, A Course in Miracles, New York: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1976.
[ii] Joel Goldsmith: was a spiritual speaker and writer of numerous books around the time of World War II and beyond, and was published by The Infinite Way, a company he established.

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