Into The Fray
This series of work began after I became close to a Level One Trauma survivor and started researching Near Death Experiences, or, as they are known, NDE’s. Almost all experiencers describe seeing a bright white light, meeting deceased loved ones or other beings and all describe an overwhelming sense of forgiveness, unconditional love and peace regardless of religion or personal history. Many people never share these experiences because when they do, they are not believed.
On a personal level, these stories tap into my core spiritual beliefs, and so the work is an attempt to illustrate an encounter with this light and the possibility that something might lie beyond. All of the people who agreed to be photographed have been interviewed about their relationship with death and how it has changed them. It has led me to wonder, what if humanity knew in no uncertain terms that unconditional love and forgiveness was waiting for us after this life? How would we live differently? How might we be driven by different goals? And how might it change the way we relate to others? Below are some excerpts from real NDE’s, as relayed directly to the Near Death Research Foundation, founded by Dr. Jeffrey Long.
joslyn beta lawrence, 2012
Diane- drowning accident
From above, I watched my husband climb onto a rock in the river. He couldn't hear what the two men still in the raft were shouting to him over the roar of the water. He had no idea where I was or what had happened, but he knew I was missing. He looked as if he wanted to jump in to try to find me and I suddenly found myself at his side, trying to stop him because he wasn't much of a swimmer and I knew there was no point. When I reached out to stop him, my hand went right through him. I looked at my hand and thought... oh, my god, I'm dead!
In that instant, total knowledge of reality appeared to me and I saw the multi-dimensionality of the universe. My consciousness expanded so far beyond the physical plane that I was no longer aware of it, nor of my self. I was so much a part of it all, there was no distinction. It was a brilliant flash of light and I was allowed to see into it for a brief moment and experience a feeling of love so profound, powerful and overwhelming that I can only describe it as pure Bliss (even though that doesn't begin to describe it).
And, suddenly, I was whisked away and found myself traveling rapidly through a vortex toward a beautiful white light in the far, far distance. I continued to experience an overwhelming feeling of love within me and around me. There was no fear, no anxiety, no worry. I even felt as if I'd done this before and was remembering that I was going home. I was filled with joy. I had no sense of a body, no feeling of limitations or boundaries. Yet, I was still me and aware that I was having this experience.
Henry - suicide attempt
The concept or rule that I learned there is that God can never be proved by scientific means. To do so would corrupt the environment. It would destroy faith. When we have faith we seek, we learn. To successfully experience the human existence, one must be physically out of touch with God. You have to learn and seek on your own- to search out the meaning of our own existence and experience here. Faith is the engine of discovery, without faith we are just like ants.
Demi - drowning accident
Ahead of me was a very bright light and I remember thinking that it was so bright that if I looked at it, it would hurt my eyes, but it didn't. I didn't yet realize what the light was, but immediately knew that that is where ALL things come from and it is where all things return and that when I was back inside the light I would know and be everything… I was given messages, no one gave them to me, I just knew them and the closer I became to the light the more anxious I was to be in it, to "return" to all love and all knowledge. The first message I was given was that the single most important thing in the Universe is Love, that Love is all that matters, that we are all the same and that we are all Love. The message that caused me the most curiosity was that we are all the same, and it went on to say that I was exactly the same as everything in the universe and was specific enough to tell me that I was exactly the same as every blade of grass. Then I was given the message that it wasn't my time to be there, that I had things I needed to do here on this plane.