This is the question Filipina-American author Karen Henson Jones posts in her book, “Heart of Miracles,” chronicling her near-death experience and the struggles she had to face as she journeyed back to life.
“Would you change your old life? Would you love the same things you used to love, want the same things you used to want? Would you believe in the same things you never believed in before?”
These questions she asks in her book are the same questions we can reflect on this Easter season. After all, for Christians like myself, Christ rising from the dead signals a rebirth, new hope, new life.
For Jones, who has a condition called Long QT Syndrome, a type of Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome, her journey back to life began when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 30, while working a high-powered a job in London.
In “Heart of Miracles,” she describes her year of long hours losing count of how many e-mails she responded to on a daily basis, balancing spreadsheets in the “hundreds of millions of dollars,” long hours in front of the computer, meetings. While these tasks, she said, earned her a “respectable paycheck” every two weeks, she wondered if there was more to life than that.
She was, in a way, forced to take these random musings more seriously when her life started changing, causing her to endure much pain, physically, mentally and emotionally. The five distinct chapters of her book narrates her struggles and triumphs, from leaving London to move back with her parents in America where she can be better taken care of; to her search for meaning and serenity in India; to witnessing love in Italy; to visiting her dream destination in Bhutan; to rekindling her spirituality in the Holy Land, all while the threat of pain and complications of her illness, even sudden death, looming over her head.
“The worse bout of pain and lowest points came after the third set of surgery. A laser burned the inside of my veins to remove the mass, and the pain was surreal. I also had a very swollen face for quite some time after the surgery and it was not clear if I might remain that way forever. At this point, I had also accumulated a lot of fatigue, It entered my mind that maybe I had been repeatedly escaping death and that it might be OK just to leave already,” she described. “But I knew the book was coming out and I thought that would be a rather morbid ending and I would miss out on experiencing the fulfillment of this work.”
Jones devoted a total of 5 years and 8 months to writing the book, working on it “in spurts,” starting in April 2009 and finishing in Dec 2014.
The product is an engaging and easy read. I started during take off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) en route to John F. Kennedy Airport, immersed in it for 4 hours, throughout the duration of the flight. And even as we deplaned in New York, I couldn’t put the book down. I was reading it while standing by the conveyor belt, waiting for my suitcase. It kept me wanting to keep turning the pages, to see how Jones’ story ends. And I’m happy to know that I’m not the only one who felt this way.
“One night, at a book reading, a woman approached me after my talk. She had bought the book a few days previous and she said that it literally just jumped out at her. She had brought her copy of the book with her and had highlighted a lot of passages and took notes. That made me feel really good, that someone was really connecting to the material in a positive way,” Jones shared.
Read all through my Uber ride, and by the time I got to my hotel, I had reached the final chapter of the book, which also happens to be Jones’ favorite: “The final dreamscape brings it all together and puts the question back onto the reader,” she said. “It asks them: hasn’t anything miraculous ever happened to you before? How was that possible? Was it God?”
Jones said her motivation for writing the book was “definitely a Higher Power.” One of the earlier chapters is entitled “Jesus, I Trust in You.” Even though she recalled that at that time, she wasn’t really practicing any religion. What she practiced, however, was yoga, kundalini, to be exact.
“I do believe in God, a life force that beats the heart and vibrates life into any organic material on the planet. I also believe in Jesus as a teacher and a miracle worker. This does not conflict with Buddhism as they believe that many advanced teachers have come to the planet to Enlighten the social systems here,” she said, as she compared Christianity with Buddhism, which is the discipline behind the practice of yoga. “I will say that Buddhists have a much deeper understanding of the nature of the Universe, energy, dream work, and the telepathic field that is absent in modern Catholicism, but that can be found in the diaries of Catholic saints.”
These are just some of the points Jones raises in her book. Reading it I found myself thinking, questioning, absorbing, understanding some of her thoughts, all while laughing with her, feeling bad with her and feeling hopeful for her. What I didn’t feel, however, is acridity. Her narratives are open and honest. Readers will be able to determine frustration, anguish, confusion; but not harshness. In fact, that’s what Jones considers to be her greatest achievement in life so far: “not being bitter” in spite of what she’s had to go through.
Although she admits to having a soft spot: “Until very recently, it has been my unique specialty to excel at wallowing in regret. It took me a long time to learn how to move forward.
“In his book “The Power of Intention” Wayne Dyer reminds us that absolute Spirit is above all a Creator of the new. To say I can’t create life anymore because it hasn’t worked in the past is the opposite of how God functions. One needs to get aligned with God, and say not what do I regret, but rather: What do I intend to manifest? From that point of view, I have no regrets, only valuable lessons that help me formulate the answer to: What do I intend to manifest?”
So, for this season of the resurrection of Christ and rebirth for us, I encourage you to get a copy of “Heart of Miracles.” (Available at amazon.com) Ask yourselves the same questions, and share the goodness moving forward.
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