Ben H. Swett
Fayetteville, Arkansas
April 1953

In years past, the seven days before new members were initiated into my college fraternity had been called "hell week," but by the time I came along, hazing had been replaced by an ordeal of cleaning, painting and repairing the fraternity house, and "hell week" had been revised to "help week." Nevertheless, it still meant long hours, hard work and very little sleep.

About two o'clock in the morning of the last day, I was supposed to be mopping the upstairs hall, but I was worn out. I had slept no more than five hours out of the last forty-eight, and the previous forty-eight had not been much better. So, when the members who were supposed to keep me working went downstairs for a cup of coffee, I leaned against a door jamb and shut my eyes.

Suddenly, I felt a very funny sensation under my feet, as though I was walking on coarse gravel or chat. It crunched underfoot. Then I felt there were other people around me - that we were walking across a graveled area, toward a building I did not recognize. We went around the corner of the building and up a flight of stairs - iron stairs, like a fire escape, attached to the outside of the building. I knew that I had never been in this place before.

We entered a door on the second floor of the building, and then sat on a wooden bench in a long, narrow room. I waited for what seemed like quite a long time, during which, one after another, the pledges sitting at my right were escorted out of the room. Then it was my turn. I was taken out of that room into a large, square room where older members of my fraternity sat behind tables, in front of me and at each side. They began speaking to me and asking me questions. At one point, someone gave me a sword and told me something I was supposed to do with it. A little later he came to take the sword away from me; I raised the tip of the sword slightly, pointing it toward his feet, and he stepped back. I reversed the sword and handed it to him, hilt first. Then I was led out of the big room, back into the narrow room - and suddenly awoke to find myself leaning against the doorjamb in the fraternity house with a mop in my hands.

"Wow!" I thought, "That was strange. I must be so tired I'm having hallucinations." Then I heard the members coming back upstairs, so I got busy with the mop. After a few more chores around the house, I was told to take a shower, put on some decent clothes, and be ready for breakfast at six o'clock. After breakfast, the members told us to get in their cars, so they could take us to the local Masonic Temple for the initiation ceremony. That surprised me because I had assumed the initiation would be held in the fraternity house.

We parked in a section of town I was not familiar with, got out of the cars and started walking across a parking lot in the half-light of dawn. Then I heard and felt something crunching under my feet. The parking lot was paved with gravel. Startled, I looked up and saw the outline of the same building I had seen in my dream five hours earlier. I wondered if there would be an outdoor stairway around the corner of that building, and there it was.

The entire next hour followed my dream precisely, even to the matter of the sword and what I did with it. I went through that hour in a sort of bemused detachment. The thought crossed my mind that I could break out of this sequence any time I chose, simply by doing something different than I had done in the dream, but I went along with it, just doing what I did next in the dream, to see how far this precise repetition of the dream would continue.

It lasted to the same moment at which I had popped out of the dream - just after I was escorted out of the room where the initiation took place, back into the narrow waiting room. This time I didn't wake up and find myself leaning against a doorjamb holding a mop. I sat and waited while the rest of the pledges went through their initiation, and then we all went back to the fraternity house.

I thought my little brush with prevision was interesting, but just my imagination. However, later that day two older members of my fraternity came up to me - separately - and asked me if I had gone through that initiation before. I said, "No, why?" Both of them answered in essentially the same words: "Because all through the ceremony you kept looking at me just before it was my turn to speak. How did you know it was my turn next?"

I replied with some trivial remark, such as, "Oh, maybe my ESP was working," and let it go at that. What else could I say? Could I tell them I had gone through the whole ceremony five hours previously - in a dream - while standing up, leaning against a doorjamb, holding a mop? Not hardly.

But I have wondered about it. Is time a straight line from the past, through the present, into the future? Or is it like the grooves of a phonograph record, where we might skip a groove and experience some things in advance? But if we can skip a groove, what about free will? Could I actually have changed the whole sequence just by doing something different?

I don't know. The possibilities boggle my mind. But I do know I went through that initiation ceremony in advance, in a dream, so when I read of previsions in the Bible or elsewhere, I tend to think those reports might be true. Granted, five hours is not a long time, but it was long enough to teach me that such things are possible.

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