Learning to Live in Heaven Now

We don’t go to heaven; we learn how to live in heaven now. And no one lives in heaven alone. Either we learn how to live in communion with other people and with all that God has created, or, quite simply, we’re not ready for heaven. If we want to live an isolated life, trying to prove that we’re better than everybody else or believing we’re worse than everybody else, we are already in hell. We have been invited—even now, even today, even this moment—to live consciously in the communion of saints, in the Presence, in the Body, in the Life of the eternal and eternally Risen Christ. This must be an almost perfect way to describe salvation itself.

Richard Rohr (part of a reflection adapted from Richard Rohr, “Seeing Is Not Always Recognizing,” homily, Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 8, 2016.

I have long struggled with the Catholic concept/construct of Purgatory. But, this somehow made sense. One must learn to live in heaven and if that is not accomplished here in our walk on earth, it still must be learned.

How to do that? How to truly be connected with others and in full communion is difficult for me. I do feel left out often. And like most of us (I suspect) I wish to be accepted. It seems though that this is the wrong focus. First I must learn to accept and connect with others. First do what I want others to do. The ultimate Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or better, be for others what you would have them be for you.

Ouch. Be the Good Samaritan and reach out to help someone who is not “one of us.” Or, be the man in the ditch, and accept help from an unexpected, and perhaps unwanted, source. Be Jesus or Peter learning that the message of the Gospel is not just for the Chosen People but available to the Gentiles. Be the lily in the field who must bloom where planted or not grow at all.

I love the concept, true. But, I really have a problem with so many people. I agree that I need to love those who hold different ideals than I do. But, Lord! help me to see how to do so. I so cannot condone some of the things that they hold sacred. I react to the hatred and meanness as a human. How do I get beyond this?

Too many questions without sound answers. No, too many questions without concrete answers. I must take each instance as it comes to me and find the way through. It does seem that this might be an answer in itself: to recognise that what folks want is a concrete, single way through the messiness. So we are all in this together after all.

Image and Likeness = Need to create

It strikes me that as we are created in the image and likeness of God that a driving part of that image and likeness is the need to create. Maybe it’s just the urge to create, but I think it is truly a need to create. That is the source of economic systems, the source of personal growth, the source of a conquering mentality. Where we have failed to understand this need is not capitalism, socialism or communism. It is not in building and consuming. It is in the misalignment of these urges with our primary call: stewardship of the world we live in.

Stewardship means we create a space for ourselves with the understanding that we are one, that to destroy the world in the search to create wealth or comfort or the illusion of power is a misdirection of the need to create.

Being (as opposed to Doing)

All this social distancing and its associated “quarantine” way of life offers, no, it demands, some serious reflection on how things are. It gives a space to learn what it is to Be instead of just to Do. In that space, I can hope to learn that I cannot possess God/Eucharist/Christ/a good prayer life/love/peace/mass… What is possible is that I can experience the presence of these “things.” I cannot possess God. I can only experience the Presence and experience the love, peace, joy that the Presence brings. I cannot possess the Eucharist. I can experience gratitude, thankfulness and joy that sharing in Eucharist can provide. I cannot own a good prayer life. I can experience the practice and its benefits.

In other words, no matter what I Do, in reality I can only Be. A wonderful, spiritual man from my past taught that we are not human doings, we are human beings. What freedom that can bring! Yes, we do many things. We must! We must act out our being. Just know that Doing is only a result of Being.

When I do hurtful things, I can apologise. That is necessary. But, it will happen over and over again until the Being that hurts others is healed and rests in the experience of being healed. I cannot possess virtue, but I can experience virtue and the benefits of being virtuous.

Be at peace. Be the peace you want to see.

Two edged sword

A time be born, a time to die… When my brother in law died nearly 3 years ago, I sang those words at his memorial service. “To everything,[turn, turn, turn] there is a season [turn, turn, turn] and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

Today as we were out running errands, the Byrds sang Turn, Turn, Turn to me. I know it was the right thing to do, back in October of 2017, to choose that song and sing it, no matter how difficult it was at the time. Today, is all rushed back at me and I sat in the car and very nearly cried. The sadness was overwhelming me and it was joined by a bit possibly anger, or maybe just chagrin: the song will forever bring me back to that day in church, to that time of sadness, to that year, that for my family was as bad or worse than 2020 has been for the world. How dare those emotions hang their hat on that melody and those words!

I always think I’m done with the grief. If I count my mother’s cousin, and someone that was a more remote family member, I lost 5 family members in 7 months. In the middle of that, I lost one of my dogs (I had watched him being born, I held him as he died); This on the heels of a year which sported a vacation to Hawaii cut short by abroken leg, building a new house and selling a home where we had lived for 30+ years and a spouse who had a run-in with colon cancer and said brother-in-law’s first cancer. I mostly am done, but it just jumps up and grabs me when I least expect it.

Life is good. I know that. To everything there is a season — a time to sow and a time to reap, a time to be born and a time to die, a time for war and a time for peace. And if I continue to listen — How can I keep from singing?

Expanding the Social Circle

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

We got brave: my daughter and her family needed to vacate because their house is on market and there were several showings. They brought the kids’ bikes and skates and legos, and the son-in-law’s golf clubs (his parents live very close by). We spent hours on the back porch just being and talking. Kev played golf. My granddaughter continued in her journey to master roller blades and we could see visible honing of her abilities over just a day; Grandson rode his bike and showed me all the neat tricks he could do such as stand up and pedal and life 8 fingers off the handlebars. We baked a birthday cake, made homemade pasta (spaghetti) and french baguettes. We had fun.

I hope it wasn’t a mistake. I’ve been sneezing. It’s definitely allergy type sneezing complete with itchy eyes. I don’t know what has bloomed, but it has come in force. I wash my hands, I wash my face, I put eye drops in so I don’t rub my eyes. I wish there wasn’t a background worry that it could be other than allergies. This freaking virus messes with your head big time.

This being together, being social, is at the same time the thing that allows a virus to spread, but also builds us up so we can fight an infection. Two-edged sword: blessing and curse. Humans need community. Some more than others, but still, even we introverts need the company of others. We all need to touch the reality that we are one, for better or worse, sickness and health, good times and bad, winter and summer.

Until we get together again, I’ll stay put as much as possible. With the state “opening up” there are more temptations to call me out of the house. Do I actually keep the dentist appointment? It was rescheduled and it’s just a regular cleaning. What about getting my hair cut? That really needs doing. Or the eye doctor appointment? Decisions. And, I’m pretty sure the worst is not behind us. These things are scheduled already, but do I keep the appointments?

Getting to the new normal is going to be a long process it seems.

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