Tuesday, August 03, 2010

feel the burn

The conversations taking place in my head--and occasionally with others--about relationships after death have stirred up some interesting food for thought. I have come to terms, for instance, with the reality that the unresolved tensions in the friendship about which I wrote earlier are fully mine to address. The hurt stemming from a lack of reconciliation before her death arises from questions that can't be answered. Having acknowledged aloud the depth of my hurt, the very act of saying those words has released the pain and healing is underway (thanks, Mom) .There will always be a lingering sadness, I think, that misunderstanding clouded the relationship, but such is life. We carry on.

While contemplating the questions of what becomes of us after death, I had a fresh revelation about a different version of purgatory. The RC doctrine is heavy on punishment. From my view, punishment is unnecessary and fails to reflect a compassionate God. Rather, standing in the face of eternal truth, the process of aligning ourselves with that truth causes a kind of anguish and spiritual pain. Whether you want to call it sin, errors in judgment, actions of malice, or whatever, being stripped of the things that interfered with being and living a life grounded in wholeness and love for which we have not made some effort to atone, is painful. It is the ultimate refiners fire. And again, not literal fire, but the kind of inner pain that comes with transformation. I'm thinking of the moth or butterfly that emerges from the chrysalis, for instance. Spiritual beauty doesn't come without sacrifice.

Maybe the step that takes us from a lifeless body to whatever comes next is really as simple as going into the light, being taken into the arms of Jesus, the bosom of God or the choir of angels. I don't know. But the questions that rise up like the smoke of incense capture our attention and warrant reflection. I don't dwell on these, but for what it's worth the process of turning over in my heart and mind the pain of brokenness has served up a feast for consideration.

Whatever awaits me when that time comes, it is up to me to live a life now that is loving, supportive, giving, and radiates the love and peace that I feel comes from God. However I am able to do that, by whatever means, I seek to do. I fail miserably so often, but each day offers an opportunity to start again, to set my sights afresh on the possibilities and blessings that await, and to be thankful for the opportunity to give it the old college try.


Jayne said...

Amen, my friend, amen. XOXO

Amy said...

You expressed this so honestly and concisely. Gosh, over 10 years ago I had an "aha" moment I've never forgotten. We were camping in a remote and absolutely beautiful place with a relative and his wife - both were in fundamentalist churches at the time. It was a perfect morning and we were watching the sun rise, and I said, "This is heaven!" My cousin said, "No, Amy, "the streets of heaven are paved with gold." I remember thinking (alright, "knowing"), as Jesus said (and I'm paraphrasing): "The Kingdom of Heaven is available now, right now!" To me, that's a great statement of personal responsibility - that's our opportunity - a "golden" one at that. And the Kingdom encompasses what you described in your last paragraph - so thank you from a long winded admirer.

Donna Henderson said...

Amen, sister, amen.

Jules said...

Have given a lot of thought to this very question of a relationship after death lately, as you know. Unresolved issues are ours to deal with as best we can with help from God. And I believe He/She is a forgiving God.


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