I realized there was simply more to life than this physical one at a very early age, and this was significantly glaring after a few incidents. I grew up partly in my home town of Nkwessi, a small village in the eastern region of my home country Nigeria. Filled with mysteries and things I deemed magical. At the time, I always wondered how everything just managed to make sense to the villagers.
I was enthralled and in love with this home town of mine, and could not wait to go there at any given opportunity. I spent my time between our home in the village and our home in Lagos, with my papa and step mother; while my mom went back to get a degree in the university of Ife, in the south of the country.
Shuttling between Lagos and Nkwessi with my parents, was the norm growing up. I explored every nook and cranny of my paradise, spending a lot of time in the river swimming. I believe this endeared me so much to water and I have a really close spiritual connection to this life source
My best friend was my cousin, Chinelo. We called her Chichi. Chichi and I did everything together; we would sit by the big rubber tree near my uncle’s house and talk about the village elders and the weird traditions and rites, commonly practiced in our village. Chichi and I were fascinated by the many rites that went on around us.
Now you must understand the setup of this place, there were rules and traditions excluding females from so many things. Back then, we used to wonder why our younger brothers and cousins were considered older and superior by village laws, and the strangeness of not being allowed into certain areas of the village and not being able to see certain masquerades because of being female, all were a mystery to us. The village had so many do’s and don’ts, we simple chalked it all up to ignorance.
In retrospect, after our introduction and understanding of worshiping in a church environment, I began to see similarities in how women were viewed as spiritually different to men, even though the village version was cruder. My siblings and I were exposed to different types of churches through our mother. She was sold on Christ, his death and coming back, and she made sure all her children got to know about him. Most folks in my village were Anglicans at the time, but this never stopped many of them from participating in traditional rites and cults. These were different to our mode of worship in churches. We found amusement in others, who questioned those engaged in traditional rites, casting them into the pits of hell for being heathens. Our rationale was that God did put us all on earth, but he also permitted diverse ways of worship and ways of praising him. But no one ever paid any attention to us, what did we know?
The churches my mother attended, outside the Anglican mode of worship, aroused my curiosity about spirituality. Unlike the Anglican songs of praise, and stifling conformity, spiritual churches like Christ healing Holy Sabbath Church, were filled with energy and charisma. Hands were clapped, drums beat and worshipers jumped high into the air, shouting Jehovah, hallelujah and hosanna at the top of their lungs. There was candle burnings and speaking in tongues, the display of which both frightened and mesmerized me. The only thing I had against them was the sting of candle wax on my poor skin (many would scream child abuse today) lol.
Chichi and I were seven years old when she fell ill with malaria. This was a killer back then, as different strains eluded various treatments. I remember going home and seeing her so frail and skeletal. I did tease her, but I was filled with overwhelming sadness. She was still ill, as of the day I returned with my parents to our home in the city. I could only hope that my papa would allow me return with him on his next visit.
Two weeks after my return to the city, I also fell ill. I was off school for about a week. I had a dream, one of the nights on which my illness was worst. I was on a vast beach. The beach stretched far beyond my view and there were people queued on two lines. On one line were hundreds of people dressed in flowing white robes. On the second line, hundreds of people dressed in regular clothing. Both lines were made up of people of different races, color, male, female and children. Considering the vast number of people on both lines, I could not comprehend how the two men, who stood on a raised platform at the very front, where the lines started, would be able to conclude the roll call in time.
I was on the line with people dressed in regular clothing, and while there, I felt someone tug at my arm. I turned around and standing there was Chichi, dressed in a flowing bright white robe.
I hugged her excitedly and asked what she was doing here and why she was dressed in white. Isn’t it exciting to be in this awesome place, I asked.
Chichi looked sad and shook her head repeatedly, saying no, no, I did not belong here. I asked why. Her response was to plead with me to come with her. She tried pulling me out of the line and I struggled to remain where I was, but Chichi was much powerful than I. She succeeded in pulling me away from the line, to a corner. This was when I noticed that she no longer looked skeletal. She was radiant!
She hugged me tightly and whispered, “We’ll see again Njide, but not now, later you understand.” (Njide is my Igbo name, pronounced In-gee-day).
I woke up with my arms still in an embrace, and calling her name. I was covered in sweat and my heart felt as if it would break in two. I cried so much that morning, my stepmom almost went crazy with worry. She did not want my father to blame her for my unhappiness…another story. Later that evening, my father came home with the news. Chichi had died a week ago back in the village.
I was devastated, confused and angry, looking for someone to blame. I remember telling my father it was his fault I never got to say goodbye. If only he had taken me to the village one last time. Of course mine was the ranting of an angry child. He understood and did not reprimand me for my rudeness.
I missed out attending Chichi’s burial ceremony and farewell ritual. When a young child dies, it was customary in my village, for all her younger siblings and playmates to be cleansed of her aura and spirit. This is done by bathing each child by her graveside, chanting incantations to severe ties of the dead from the living.
This is done, because, prior to these rituals, kids told their parents or adults, that they still see and play with their dead friends and siblings. On this occasion of Chichi’s death, I was the only one who did not have this ritual bath. In the aftermath of my dream, it dawned on me that Chichi appearing in my dream, saved my life.
If I had remained on that line, I would have responded to my name during the roll call, to the end that I would not have woken from my sleep. There’s nothing wrong with death…it just was not my time. The universe orchestrated circumstances to ensure the separation rite was not performed on me, making it possible for Chichi to reach and save me. This incident with Chichi is something that will remain with me as long as I live and I still miss her to this day.
For me, being awakened is a process and not a destination. Like the stages of infancy to adulthood, man undergoes stages of awareness before attaining a higher level of consciousness: worshiping a God through object before ultimately realizing that we are gods to each other. Representatives of the Great I AM. My awareness is about being spiritually conscious of my surroundings and me. I believe in Christ and have the uttermost respect for Eastern, and other belief systems; simple because I have grown to understand that the only true form of worship, or praise of God or the Infinite, is for man to find himself and acknowledge the I Am, in himself.
There is no need for dogma in the worship of God, the Creator or the Being: the only prerequisite is Love.
Mom returned home one day to tell me she had found God. I smiled and asked her where. She said in the ‘O’. I asked what is the ‘O’? Her reply was, the ‘O’ is infinite, endless and beyond measure. The infinite nature of the letter ‘O’, is symbolic of the completeness and dual nature of man. The spiritual and physical nature of God, reflected in the spiritual and physical nature of man as God. This awareness, catapulted me to a whole new dimension which I’m glad to say, continues to date.
I have had experiences whereby, I was shown things in my dreams, many of which have occurred. I grew up surrounded by instances of supernatural occurrences to myself and others around me. Some involved being saved from disasters or accidents that should have taken their lives. My husband is an example: traveling to work on a busy stretch of road in London, Fulham Palace Road (A219) towards Putney Bridge, he fell asleep driving. He was about to crash into the side railings when the horn (his own horn) woke him up! For 9am in the morning, he did not run into any other car, there were no pedestrians about and surprisingly no other car close by. Something or someone used his own hands to blast the horn of the car he was driving. As if that was not enough for the day, at the exact spot, driving back home and the same thing happened. The only difference being, he was now driving on the opposite side of the road.
Fulham Palace Road is always busy, both with vehicles and pedestrians. But surprisingly, twice on the same day, in the exact spot, no one was anywhere close to him. Using his own hands, the horn was pressed, waking him up the moment before he would have gone headlong into the railings and then the buildings behind them. Growing up around such occurrences made it impossible to ignore the existence of something beyond the physical; an awareness of the spiritual nature of man.
At age fourteen, I had my first experience with the Light (I refer to it as Light, because that is what I know it to be…). I was upset one afternoon because mom would not let me visit my friend who lived in another part of Lagos. I did everything possible to persuade her, but she was weary of that area of town and what I might be influenced to get up to, over there. I remember telling her she had no confidence in her job raising me, if a simple visit to the other side of town was such a threat to her. For that, I was banished to my room. Teenage hormones, or fury, I don’t know which, but something completely took over me…Rage!
All I wanted to do was die, which would show her. I thought stupidly and I proceeded to hold my breath. Something I had done in the past, and strangely, the sensation of the effect was always, rather pleasing. On this particular day, I over did it. The sensation started as a slight heat on my forehead and immediately it shot down my spine. Soon, my entire body was overwhelmed with heat. The discomforting feeling of not breathing began to wear off. All I felt was calm. I was floating and I liked it, very much. I was going towards a light. I remember saying to myself, I’m leaving, and soon I’ll be dead.
The word DEAD, sent panic waves through me and my whole world flashed before my eyes. It was like a movie trailer and it ended with my mom’s face as she looked down on me with tears streaming down her face. I was no longer happy, or eager to remain where I was, but it was almost too late to come back. I began to reach back, step further away from the light, but it was as though a force field was pulling against me. I could still hear the physical world, faintly…cars and street noise. I was tired and out of breath.
Suddenly, I heard a loud banging and then another. Then I heard mom yelling my name. She wanted me to stop whining and come help her with dinner. I remember holding on to her voice and with one final struggle, I was virtually hurled away from the force. When I opened my eyes, I was no longer on my bed, but on floor. Mom was still banging on the door. I crawled and let her in, whispering that I will be out a minute.
Fast forward to my adult years, I was now married and a mother to seven children. Part of my journey towards being enlightened is my experience with Light. Several years ago, I was at a place in my life, when everything was falling apart. I suppose the stress brought on the headaches. This also was the period when second experience with the Light began.
It started at first as a tiny stream of light that would suddenly take over me, especially when really tired. This was around 2009, the period I was diagnosed with migraine headaches. I would lie awake in bed. Aware of the noises around me—I could hear the kids and the television downstairs—until I felt a concentration of heat on my forehead and next, I would see a stream of bright light. Gradually, I began to see images, almost like a silent motion picture. I would see the most beautiful falling hills, and sometimes mountains glazed with ice and snow. At other times, it would be a meadow, or a vast never ending desert of sand. These images were soothing and calming to me. Knowing I was awake and yet having this experience, I called out to one of the kids, to know if they could see what I saw. I did call but no sound emitted from me.
These experiences never last long when I do observe the time, but over there, it seems as if I had spent hours. At this point, once I get off the bed, my head always felt better. I somehow understood that there was much more to the light than making my headaches go away. As time went on, these light visitations began to last longer, and the images also began to change. I started to see silhouettes of people. Over a period of time, the silhouettes became clearer and I began to see people. I found all this exciting, and soon discovered that I no longer had to be tired or have an aura of migraine to have the Light experience. Soon, I began to put myself in a state where the lights came to me. I see people, in gardens or malls or in their living rooms. Most times I don’t know who they are, sometimes I do. So far, I have had no communication with anyone, even though I have observed people communicating with each other; without being privy to their discussions.
I am ecstatic about these experiences for two reasons: this was a means of getting rid of my migraines without medication. Secondly, the calm and soothing experience this also brought into my life in the aftermath of each experience.
My awakening is realizing that God exists through man. Man is God to man. If I can love my fellow-man, I can love God, and my neighbor can and will experience the love of God. Whatever little act of kindness I show to those who need it—whether they deserving or not—will make the world a better place. Every cruel or good act performed towards any other living thing is done by God. If man is more caring and tolerant of his fellow-man, everyone will perceive a loving caring God, as experienced firsthand through another being. Refer to my blog post from last year: I AM BECAUSE OF LOVE.
Life is a school and I am its avid student; a work in progress. I’m still learning, and will continue to learn from life and all that is life. The opportunity to rehash aspects of my life is a wonderful experience, which I thank Barbara for providing. I consider this a soul-searching exercise, as our individual and collective journeys serve as a compass to each other.
Barbara, thank you. I am so glad you chose me to be a part of this.
May perfect peace be with you always, Amen.