Another Special Life in Christ
These testimony lives are not stories of "role models". Jesus is the
These are lives wonderfully touched & changed by Jesus!
Lane was born into a dour Presbyterian family in
Ohio and schooled in the Protestant work ethic. She admired Jesus and loved the ancient Bible
stories but found little connection to her own family life, which was, to her, without
“We moved a lot. I was always the outsider,” says
Frumpy and overweight, she retreated to her books
and thrived on the support of teachers, who praised her for her intellect and encouraged her
to apply to college. Her father objected, so it was her high school French teacher who paid
her application fee to Whittenberg College.
As an adolescent, Lane was affected profoundly by
the political upheavals of the 1960s, including the civil rights movement.
But while she was being taught to love “the least
of these” at church, Lane says, “I started to notice some little cracks in the
She would hear her father and others dismiss black
people as inferior, she says, and in that hypocrisy she found seeds of a growing alienation
In college, she declared herself an atheist,
finding in philosophy and science nothing to confirm the existence of God.
Lane became a hippie and a social and political
radical and suffered sustained bouts of depression, attempting suicide on several occasions,
even as she earned her doctorate in French literature.
She dismissed religion as so much “ridiculous
mumbo jumbo” and constructed her life around a belief system of “logical positivism.” Those
beliefs did not begin to change until after she came to South Carolina in 1977, married and
had her only, beloved child, Laura, now 17.
DESPERATELY WANTING TO
“Nancy was the most intellectual person that I
knew,” says her longtime friend and University of South Carolina language colleague David Hill, who teaches Spanish.
“She lived almost entirely in her head.”
Lane says how she caught a hint of God’s grace
after the breakup of her marriage, when her many friends rallied to her side to help her
through the upheaval.
“There again, for no reason, people were
wonderful,” Lane says. “I realized as I was healing from the end of my marriage, there were
people whose intelligence and integrity I really admired who were
Hill and his wife, Peggy, were among those who had
returned to an active Christian life.
“It really kind of surprised her when we started
going back into the church,” Hill says. “It just didn’t compute that you could be intelligent
and religious at the same time.”
Lane would accompany the Hills to church, usually
on Christmas Eve, to watch the couple’s three children participate in pageants and appreciate
the majesty of the ancient stories.
Lane experienced an epiphany on the beach at
Edisto Island, S. C. in 1999, she says, sensing some spiritual force was at work within her. “I give up,”
she said then.
At services at St. Simon & St. Jude Episcopal
Church in Irmo, the church that would become her own, Lane refrained from taking communion
until one day she leaned over and told David Hill, “I just wish it were all
Hill remembers Lane telling him, “I really
desperately want to believe.”
“And I kind of quoted a Spanish philosopher, a
Christian existentialist, Miguel de Unamuno, who said, ‘To believe is to want to believe,’ ”
Hill recalls. “And she said, ‘That’s enough.’ ”
Maybe, Hill says, it helped that he appealed to
Lane’s intellect by quoting a philosopher, but, after that, there was an acceptance of
“She’s clearly still on the journey, but the pain
is gone,” he says. “It has given her a very peaceful outlook on life.”
Nancy Lane will greet this Easter morning with
joy, suffused with a rich appreciation for the power of medicine, the compassion of loving
family and friends and, above all, the grace of God.
In a freak accident that she has yet to fully
piece together, the USC French professor suffered a near-fatal skull fracture last October
when she fell down her brother’s basement stairs in Ohio onto a concrete floor. The basal
fracture caused her brain to swell; her medical team put her chance of survival at 30
As Lane lay in a medically induced coma, as she
underwent three delicate and dangerous surgeries, her family and friends began to pray for
this woman they loved, a petite intellectual powerhouse who only in recent years shed her
obstinate skepticism and drew close to God.
Lane, who for 35 years was a rock-hard atheist,
now says, “I can say, ‘Christ has risen,’ with new reverence.”
Her spiritual awakening has been gradual and not
without internal resistance. But the accident, recovery and rehabilitation have confirmed for
her one incontrovertible fact: Revelation comes from the heart, not from the
“Grace is what I call it, in retrospect,” she
It is an odd thing to call a near-death experience (a converting NDE without the out of body part)
a “glorious journey,” but that is how Lane sometimes explains the accident that has framed
her life since October.
She now knows her near-fatal tumble triggered an
enormous outpouring of love and intercessory prayers.
Her family, her daughter’s friends and basketball
team, her extensive network of women friends, the university community and her church all
seemed to turn their hearts to her recovery.
“It is overwhelming and overpowering, the huge
amount of support and help I got,” Lane says.
After learning of the accident, her daughter
Laura, a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at A.C. Flora High School; a
friend of Laura; and Lane’s boyfriend, Vincent Van Brunt flew to Ohio, to be at her side.
They arrived the day after the accident.
Lane had survived the first surgery performed at
Aultman Hospital, a teaching hospital in Canton, Ohio. Immediately, Van Brunt, a USC chemical
engineering professor, applied his passion for detail and intense personality to Lane’s
He began a detailed medical archive, recording
every morsel of information about Lane’s daily progress.
“I got I don’t know how many phone numbers so I
could communicate with every nursing shift in the ICU (intensive care unit),” says Van Brunt.
“That first weekend, I might have cried a little, but I never lost faith.”
On Oct. 18, 2005, four days after the accident,
Lane’s family and designated medical representatives had to decide whether Lane should
undergo another surgery to relieve swelling on her brain.
“The pressure was going up,” Van Brunt says. “From
the CAT scan they knew she had suffered a traumatic brain injury.”
Surgeons induced a coma and operated, reducing the
swelling and clearing the area of debris.
It was touch-and-go, but her family and friends
lifted her up always in thought and prayer. Her daughter, Laura, “was a rock,” says Hill,
never flinching when she hardly could recognize her mother for the
St. Simon & St. Jude Episcopal held a healing
service, laying hands on a surrogate in South Carolina as Lane lay in the Ohio hospital. The
women of the congregation made a prayer blanket and gave it to Van Brunt to lay on her
Her University of South Carolina colleagues, in the Department of
Languages, Literatures and Cultures and elsewhere, gathered for a campus prayer service and
wrote of their hopes for her recovery in a prayer journal that Lane now keeps on her living
room coffee table.
Her ex-husband’s young daughter and her friends at
the Harmony School made a get-well banner that still hangs in the living
Lane’s sojourn in the ICU and neurological ICU
took weeks. Van Brunt saysthe turning point was just after the second week when, brought out
of the coma, Lane heard her surgeon, who was half-French, speak in the language she
“Her first thought was, ‘Why am I in France?’ ”
Van Brunt recalls. “She cannot speak because of the tube down her throat, so she writes,
‘Where is my purse?’ The second thing she writes is “Where is my suitcase?’ The third thing
she writes is, ‘I need my glasses.’ ”
Then she asks on paper, “Is it
Daughter Laura answered, “No Mama, it’s
Then Lane wrote, “What happened on ‘Desperate
Housewives’?” and “Who won the World Series?”
“We knew then that she understood time and place,”
Van Brunt says.
Even now, others must tell her of the events of
those terrible days because she has no memory of the accident, of crawling up the basement
stairs and of waking, momentarily, to tell her brother to take her to the
It is life, now, in this moment that she savors as
she regains the normalcy of family and work routines, enjoying time with her daughter, who
will leave for college this fall.
Sometimes, she says, “You have to die to the old
false self to realize how vulnerable you are.”
To be born again is to walk among the azaleas, as
she did a few days ago and drink in the beauty of spring.
Today, she’ll celebrate Easter with her parish
family “being part of the body of Christ,” she says. “And I’ll see all around me the glory of
This article was scrap-booked as a collected
testimony, "Rebirth on this Easter morning: A former atheist reflects on glory of God",
By Carolyn Click, The State newspaper, Columbia, S. C.
ATHEISTS: As a former atheist, she is in a group of intellectual heavyweights who saw the light, HERE!
***give me your comments about this
(posted 16 April 2006; update adjustment 28 September 2015)
You have just read a very brief example of the
powerful, supernatural transformation of a person's life which is possible through the
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