Vicars Monthly Letter

Vicar's Letter - February.

Dear Friends,

I heard a remarkable radio program one afternoon, on Radio 4.  (When you get to my age you find yourself listening to Radio 4 rather than Radio 1).  BBC correspondent Emily Buchanan was interviewing Nadim Ednan-Laperouse.  He was on a flight to a holiday destination with his daughter Natasha when she was taken ill. She had suffered a severe allergic reaction while eating a mislabelled ‘Pret-a-Manger’ sandwich and tragically died on the aeroplane floor in front of her father. The story of what happened has been widely reported and touched many people, as well as leading to the introduction of 'Natasha's Law' following a successful court ruling. Though a big news story at the time (2 years ago), Nadim has never told of the extraordinary religious experience that happened to him on the plane that day. Something very powerful took place which was to change his life and all those around him.

Nadim had not had a religious upbringing. He did not consider himself religious in any way. And yet, as Natasha lay dying in front of him, Nadim clearly saw five angelic beings surround his daughter’s body. These beings had a human-like form with wings on their backs. They were surrounded by a strong yellow light - not blinding but strong and warm. As Natasha died from the severe allergic reaction, these angels hovered in a circle around her body and as she breathed her last they suddenly disappeared. Nadim was left with a strong awareness that these angelic beings had taken his daughter into heaven. After the trauma of his daughter’s death, Nadim fought on, involving politicians, to introduce much stricter regulations for the labelling of food so that no one else would suffer as his daughter had done. The yellow light returned later in Nadim’s experience when the realization dawned on him that his case was being taken seriously and changes to the law were going to be made.

Perhaps a psychiatrist or psychologist might suggest that Nadim’s experiences were part of a reaction to extreme distress and grief. But the thing which impressed me, as I listened to Nadim recount his story, was the calmness exhibited and the detail he gave - the certainty of his new found faith.

As a priest, I’ve humbly witnessed people close to death seeing before them beloved relatives, or others they seemed familiar with and were happy to see once again or simply a welcoming light I think it’s too easy to dismiss these experiences as being due to altered body chemistry because of illness. We are, as human beings, both physical and spiritual entities. We should expect and value these spiritual experiences, be open to them in ourselves and in others. They are signs that another realm, God’s realm, is never that far away from us throughout lives.  So be open to the unexpected, the glimpse of more to come because through these I truly believe we have a glimpse of God and the life eternal through our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Your friend and priest

Kevin

 


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