Beyond the Threshold — An Introduction
My father was my first teacher. And through his final breaths, he became a teacher for life.
My father was deeply skeptical but underwent a spiritual transformation a few weeks before his death that surprised me and moved me. He spoke for the first time in his life of angels and “green dimensions” and emanated a peace and grace that filled the room.
During his last weeks, so intrigued by what he saw and said, I transcribed his words, noticing shifts in his language as he moved between intelligible phrases and puzzling, unintelligible ones. His language had a new quality about it — rich in metaphor, filled with poetic constructions, and sprinkled with sheer nonsense — “My modality is broken.”
What I witnessed during my father’s dying would later become an inquiry of many years through The Final Words Project that I write about in my book Words at the Threshold. This investigation continues with my friend and colleague, Dr. Raymond Moody.
Yet, not only did my father leave behind his last words, as a kind of breadcrumb trail to research consciousness, but his words re-emerged after his death in the form of love poems for my mother.
One morning several weeks after he passed on, I heard his voice with crystal clarity. He asked me to pick up a pen and write a poem to my mother, his wife of 56 years. It began with “even in heaven no light shines as brightly as Susan…”
The poem came so easily, in a voice that was clearly not my own, and was an offering to the woman my father so deeply loved. For weeks and months after his passing, his words came through as poetry.
Now, six years after his death, his voice has grown silent. I decided to put together this volume so that his memory stays alive.
I hope that these excerpts from the Veil inspire you to listen for the voices of your beloveds singing in the stars and have the faith that they too will always hear you.
Sacred Storms #6 June 2012
In the small bead of rain
I see the bird’s face
graced in droplets of a grinning earth
wet are the rivers and shameless space
galaxies open beyond the banks
the bird is of paradise as all is in heaven,
and even beneath my feet, Hell is not knowing—sacred
worm driven from earth puddles everywhere
small catastrophes of joy
tears find their way home scorched weary earth
you were my magic carpet ride
seventy-seven years is just a blink among these stars
we transcend numbers to find our mirrors
in the snowdrifts and the icicles
the tempests we believe define us—
just sacred storms;
we endure; we endure—The holy are not chosen
they only recognize what is obvious
of these tapestries of days
we are tailors of our own earthly misfortunes,
of our own naked Returns–
No Star Dies #16
no flame is ever extinguished
recall the light of God
shattering into its million pieces
big bang cyclone of debris and illumination
once light always light
I am still as you can feel beside you
Guiding, incendiary joy
This is the only miracle
That this light is all there is —
all there was
we are rippling suns, flames transforming flames;
no light is expired into dark
no star dies
Listen closely for the departed, for they will leave you
messages through electrical objects, the natural world,
synchronicities, lost and found objects, sudden shattering
of glass or picture frames, or well-timed songs on the radio
Sometimes our beloveds will come in poems, paintings, or
as a presence, a knowing, a comfort, a warm touch, or a
pulsing. Sometimes they will appear in dreams, just as we
remembered them, or even while we are awake as
Listening is a simple act. Be witness to all the ways our
ancestors speak to us through our ears, our hearts, our
eyes, our daily lives. Listen so that heaven is heard.
Lisa Smartt is the author of the bestselling Words at the Threshold (2017 New World Library) based on the findings of her Final Words Project (finalwordsproject.org), which she established with Dr. Raymond Moody. She has authored several other books including Diet for a Broken Heart, Lessons in Lullabies, Veil: Love Poems from across the Threshold, and Cante Bardo. Lisa is also a book coach and delights in being a midwife to new ideas and authors. Find out more about her book coaching here: https://lifeafterlife.com/book-coaching/