I was in good health, happily married and in a good career. I had been brought up as a Catholic but from the age of 16, I rejected religious belief and practice as an archaic irrelevance - science would provide all the answers

One night in 1978 I had a dream that overnight changed my outlook on life completely. It was an overwhelming experience that affected me physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.
In my dream I was an onlooker within a group of people who were mourning the loss of someone who had been very significant to them -- someone who was deeply loved and who loved in return. I did not know who the mourners were, or whom they were mourning, but I shared their feelings.
The loss of this person, the end of their existence, had taken away all meaning. Life was pointless. All was dark, empty and futile. I felt their grief and it was a bitter coldness of the spirit. Together we sunk to the ultimate depth of despair and hopelessness. The spiritual pain was indescribable.
Then, all of a sudden it changed. In some ineffable way the mourners knew that the person they grieved for had not ceased to exist. In fact it was ludicrous to think so. The individual continued to be. The love they shared could never be extinguished. Life was eternal and our destiny glorious.
Their mood changed from utter despair to utter joy. As I had shared their torment I now shared this joy. My spirit soared with new knowledge. Of course, I thought it all made sense. Life is eternal. Our mortal lives are significant. We must learn, experience and love. We must be kind to those we encounter as it helps and nourishes them.
I felt myself soar into glorious light where countless illuminated beings shimmered. I knew that we are all part of one great entity. We are all connected. All life has validity and should be respected. Waves of love passed over me and through me. I was physically, emotionally and spiritually overwhelmed with love. I was drawn to the light and felt that I could allow myself to be immersed in this utterly joyous assembly. I felt my heart would burst with love and joy. All I had to do was let go.
I said, "I haven't done anything with my life yet." I drew back from the light. It was only then that the feeling subsided.
When I awoke I was so moved by my dream that I told my wife and family members, I told work colleagues, fellow passengers on air flights, and random individuals. I was so full of my experience that I felt I had to tell others; it was as if it was important that they knew. Death was nothing to worry about. We live on and oh how we live on.
From that night my outlook on life changed. I noticed things around me much more than I had before. Simple things like a spider spinning a web and the intricate shape of a new leaf like a newborn's limb. Flowers, trees, cloud formations and all living creatures had a beauty I had not seen before. People were different -- or at least I perceived them to be. Each person I encountered held within in them an intrinsic beauty, a spark of the divine.
Since then I have studied much to try and make sense of my experience. My career changed from a hard commercial industry to not-for-profit activities. I read widely. I was accepted for training for the priesthood in the Church of England. I was ordained in 2000 but no longer practice as I found myself increasingly at odds with conventional church practice and dogma. I am a very happy person - although sometimes I have felt a bit lonely - despite a loving family. My experience 30 years ago is still with me and I try to live my life in the way I think I should. I want to be the person that I can be.