FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
by Carlos Contreras
(Mississauga, Ontario, Canada)
FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
(Repentance to Conversion)
In the past, I engaged in all forms of vices…womanizing, gambling, drinking, stealing, cheating and filled with pride, envy, hatred, anger, bitterness, arrogance, bad mouthing and physically, mentally, and emotionally hurting my wife.
I did not realize that I was living in the dark and destroying my soul. I was a temperamental and perfectionist person always criticizing the faults and defects of others.
In 1994, I lost my early retirement in business, sold our house and lot in 1995 for business and lost everything in 1997. There were nothing left and I cannot even send my children to school. I received demand letters from our creditor banks, declared bankruptcy, and failed to pay our debts.
I was jobless and have to sold whatever belongings we can salvage to pay for the bills and our food. I was devastated and felt total darkness in my life that I wept day and night, went on pilgrimage to the Blessed Sacrament/Adoration Chapel.
I felt abandoned by those who used to be close to us, including our siblings, close relatives and friends. And in October 1997, I was near coma due to my extremely high blood sugar (478.87 mg/dl or 26.34 mmol) due to my uncontrolled diabetes and have to be confined in a hospital where I was simultaneously subjected to culd-well luc operation due to a growing mass that need to be removed to prevent from developing into cancer.
I was given a series of insulin injections and when my blood sugar reached the normal and controlled level, I went through the culd-wl luc operation starting at 8 A.M., where I was given anesthesia. I felt asleep and suddenly, I opened my eyes and heard sounds but I can only see shadows.
After a few moment, I saw myself floating in a very dark empty space. I looked above to see what my doctors were doing, but I cannot see them, I looked below, there was nobody. I looked at the left and at the right, still, there was nobody.
I cannot hear anything. There was absolute silence and stillness. I cannot see my body. THERE WAS NO LIFE! I tried to speak, but I cannot. I began to panic. I asked myself, where am I?
I felt like passing through a dark vast tunnel with thick black clouds all over me. I was shocked and was already asking myself, am I already dead?
I thought there was a BIG MISTAKE and IT CAN’T BE. I want to see a light but there was none. I want to see the doctors, but there was no one, there was ABSOLUTE SILENCE…no one to see, no voice that comes out BUT ONLY THOUGHTS IN MY MIND…for I have no body.
I thought…I was out of this world. I felt my heart pounding so fast trying to catch my breath and desperately looking for a LIGHT and being able to get back to the operating table with my doctors and hospital crews.
I never felt so scared in my life that I wanted to EXPLODE. It was the most horrifying state of my life that no living creature can imagine unless he or she has also experienced the same circumstance. It was HORRIBLE.
Since I was unable to speak or hear, only thoughts came out pleading to God to bring me back to life as I was not yet ready to die…to leave my family behind since my children are still young.
Suddenly, there was BLACKOUT. The experience happened so fast, about 3 minutes, and I woke up finding myself in the recovery room. It was 4:00 P.M. Words of fear and anxiety cannot come out from my mouth. I was too weak and I just tried to forget it and considered it as just a wild dream or hallucination.
I began to search for meaning and purpose for all the pains, failures, difficulties happening in our life that I started to read the Bible, religious articles and prayer books, and continued my pilgrimage.
Thoughts of suicide also came but I struggled hard to keep the faith. I realized that I was no longer in control and that a powerful force is guiding me and directing my steps. During one of my deep prayer, soul searching, and reflection, I read a message (footnotes) in the Bible that I cannot grow on my own and I have to join a community which in the past I find a joke, a place for “fanatics” or “lost people”.
On May 1999, while walking in a mall, I saw a streamer: “Life in The Spirit Seminar”, and I heard a whisper in my mind telling me to register and attend.
I filled up the form and put GOD as my sponsor (since there was none and I can only think of only God who whispered in my ears). On the eve of the LSS (July 1999), I suddenly felt very weak, with severe head ache and cannot move. I lay on the bed wondering what is happening to me. I was so eager to attend the LSS and do not want to miss it. I prayed to God in tears begging to heal me.
The next day, I was still weak and dizzy but rushed to the Rivers of Living Water Catholic Community hoping that the Lord will take care of me. During the 1st day, I was puzzled how I was able to come given my physical condition.
Yet, my heart thirst so much for God and seek REPENTANCE for all my dark life. I have no idea what LSS was all about but realized a deep sense of love and mercy from God. On the 2nd day, after making a confession, a Baptism of the Holy Spirit began where attendees were being led to several priests for baptism. It was very dark and the sponsors were guiding us.
When it was my turn, I stood still in front of a priest , closed my eyes and have no idea of what’s going to happen. Suddenly, I saw a very shining light (like a spot light) all over my face. Then, a white dove appeared in the middle above the shining light and I heard a strange and loud thundering voice coming from above uttering words I cannot understand.
I was stunned and kept my sight on the shinning light and the white dove. After a few seconds, the voice stopped and, the light quickly passed through my body. I was stunned and speechless as I was brought back to my chair.
After the LSS, as new members of the community, we were told to attend the prayer meeting and shed light on what we have experienced. Some gave testimonies but the last one was asked by the Spiritual Director (Fr. Mario Sobrejuanite) who among us saw a sign or vision. It was then that I raised my hand and asked to speak in front and revealed what I saw with the community.
I have no idea about the LSS and after the baptism, I felt extreme Light in my heart, mind, and body. I felt I was floating in the air and all my burdens, worries, and sadness were gone. I felt A new Life and the Grace of God overflowing.
It was the beginning of a new life with God as the center of my life and receiving Spiritual Gifts that later I began to use for the service and glory of God. After 4 years (2003) a member of the community gave witness to his near death which shocked me and fell on my knees with tears telling God that we have similar encounters and that my experience of darkness was not really a dream or hallucination…but a vision after all.
I prayed hard for discernment and later asked my doctors about my experience if whether it was a result of drugs or anesthesia, or anything. But the doctor told me it was not…and I was so blessed because I was gifted with a “vision”.
After 4 years, my experience during my culd-well luc operation in 1997 and LSS in 1999 became the source of my inspiration to bear witness to the Lord and later gave more testimonies about Faith, Hope, Love, and continue to spread His Word and Inspiring Thoughts and Messages, and Articles for the Kingdom and Glory of God.
That when we die…we may go through DARKNESS and a Lifeless Place where there is NOTHING, NO ONE, and everything that was in one’s life had passed like a snap of a finger. That when we repent from our Sins, seek and receive God’s Mercy and Grace before we die, we can see and experience Light and Life even before our death.
Since then, my life changed spending more time growing in the knowledge and grace of God. Spending more time in prayer, meditation, reflection, and bearing witness to the Truth about the Word of God, inspiring thoughts, articles, and stories from others and from my own experiences.
Sometimes, I thought that seeing Darkness and being alone in an empty space with no life…is a manifestation of Purgatory…where the presence of God is nowhere, while seeing Light and Life in a strange place and time is feeling floating up in the air filled with Peace and Joy of God, and all the heavy loads that I carried were gone.
I am sharing these experience so that others who live in the dark, may one day see Light and Life which is only through repentance and reconciliation with God.
To God be the Glory.
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada