Doug Ge­orge writes about his death

The Compass - - OPINION - Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Com­pass ev­ery week. He can be reached at bur­tonj@nfld.net

Doug Ge­orge of Dildo has had an ex­pe­ri­ence, about which few of us mere mor­tals live to tell. On Dec. 22, 1995, he died. How­ever, his death isn’t what I’m writ­ing about; if we live long enough, we will all die. It’s what came af­ter Doug’s death that in­spires my col­umn. The fact is, he re­turned from the dead. In other words, he had a near-death ex­pe­ri­ence.

For those un­fa­mil­iar with this con­cept, a near-death ex­pe­ri­ence is as­so­ci­ated with im­pend­ing death, com­pris­ing many pos­si­ble sen­sa­tions and usu­ally re­ported af­ter a per­son has been pro­nounced clin­i­cally dead or very close to death.

Doug’s out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ence forms the ba­sis for his most re­cent self-pub­lished book, “Hark!” This is how it all went down.

At a pre- Christ­mas Eve get­to­gether, he de­voured some dry ce­real that was, un­known to him, laced with peanuts, “the sole mem­ber of na­ture’s legume fam­ily to which I am vi­o­lently al­ler­gic,” he says.

May Ge­orge drove her “wheez­ing, gasp­ing and turn­ing blue” hus­band to the Whit­bourne Health Cen­tre, by which time he was “well on my way into ana­phy­lac­tic shock.” Shortly later, Doug died.

“Al­though I had spent a seem­ingly end­less bar­rage of Sun­days and other holy days in church,” Doug says, “it never crossed my mind that any of the stuff they talked about ... might ac­tu­ally be true or real … I think that I viewed re­li­gion as a com­bi­na­tion of fairy tales wrapped up in a Santa Claus myth with an Easter bunny and a few other things thrown in to make it all palat­able, if not en­tirely be­liev­able.”

Ad­mit­tedly, over a 30-year mil­i­tary ca­reer, Doug had “oc­ca­sion to call out to God, and to Je­sus, as well, from time to time. This in­vari­ably hap­pened when I was look­ing for favour, pro­tec­tion or sal­va­tion from some­thing nasty, un­savoury or dan­ger­ous.”

With­out a re­li­gion to call his own, he spent no time think­ing about God’s ex­is­tence which, he ex­plains, he “found eas­ier to cam­ou­flage than to ad­ver­tise.” Tech­ni­cally, he was Church of Eng­land. “If any­one had asked, I would likely have told them where I stood on the mat­ter, but no one did and I chose to dis­cuss other things.”

Which per­haps is why, while pros­trate on a gur­ney re­al­iz­ing death was im­mi­nent, he “was quite cross with my­self for hav­ing to leave life with­out be­ing quite fin­ished with it.” With that, he was gone.

For Doug, the word “gone” in this con­text meant “hov­er­ing near the ceil­ing of the ER ... look­ing down upon my body.” He ex­claims, “Ex­cept for the fact that I was dead, I had never felt so alive!”

He thought to him­self, “if an un­be­liev­ing, semi-re­jecter of God like me can be in­vited to the light, then surely God is there for ev­ery­one.”

Doug de­clares that, dur­ing his out- of- body ex­pe­ri­ence, he saw some­thing di­vine. “I felt it. It was with me. What­ever ‘it’ turns out to be, it is won­drous and is my God.”

The ba­sic foun­da­tion of Doug’s en­light­en­ment, he de­clares, is “God has no re­li­gion. God is wholly spir­i­tual. Man has built re­li­gion around God to give Him more mean­ing or colour ; to raise His pro­file and saleabil­ity. Re­li­gion is there to raise aware­ness of God and, in some cases, just to make a cash busi­ness of life and death. Re­li­gion is a win­dow dress­ing cre­ated to pro­vide a fo­cal point for the var­i­ous ways of find­ing God. In the end, how­ever, th­ese meth­ods are not re­quired of us.”

If this is the case, then should re­li­gion be avoided or un­nec­es­sary? “On the con­trary,” Doug con­tin­ues, “the fel­low­ship that re­li­gion brings can mean get­ting your whole team, your en­tire ecumenical fam­ily, to meet God. Team­work is an im­por­tant as­pect of re­li­gion and a vi­tal ad­junct to spir­i­tu­al­ity.”

In the years since his near-death ex­pe­ri­ence, Doug has de­voted much thought to God and spir­i­tu­al­ity, for­mu­lat­ing “an­swers to sat­isfy my need to learn as much as I can in the time I have re­main­ing.”

His book, which is sub­ti­tled, “If it Hurts Naught or None, do as ye Will,” dis­tills his evolv­ing think­ing in 13 ses­sions, rang­ing from two to 32 pages each, be­tween the hu­man and the di­vine. A word to be wise: ex­pect the un­ex­pected, the un­ortho­dox. Even Doug ad­mits, “Per­haps my per­sonal ‘find­ings,’ ob­ser­va­tions and as­sump­tions will not sit well with you. That is the chance I took when I de­cided to colour out­side the lines and to tell you about it.”

It’s un­de­ni­able that Doug Ge­orge ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing. What­ever it was ef­fec­tively changed his life. “From that time on,” he says, “I have tried, in my own small and lim­ited ways, to be a bet­ter per­son over­all.”

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