Currently, I’m living with an axe waiting to fall. Forget elephant in the room, there is a Naga-crappy bomb waiting to explode in my home, and the countdown is hidden. I clutch my stomach in pain, and suck down Gaviscon like it’s a DQ milkshake.
Interestingly, ulcer-creating emotional pain has been noted even in Biblical times...
For I eat ashes like bread
mingle tears with my drink,
See? Pastor family-living ain’t as heavenly as you imagine it—not the hymn-loving, hallelujah-chorus that people build up for us. Those halos we wear are really out of aluminum foil, made in Sunday school.
Recently, I sat by the bed of a dying member of congregation. Having been through the dying process with my father, I know that the person was not feeling the same level of suffering as those around the bed. Yet, in some way, I felt I was going through the same process as her. Neither one of us had eaten much. Both of our mouths were drying out. Something inside us was dying. But, where she was becoming numb, I was in pain. There were moments I would have traded places.
Grief, when acknowledged, has a lot in common with dying. There is a focus on what is inside, and yet offers a different perspective on what is outside of you. The big picture. The “you can’t take it with you”.
In Islam, there is a saying ascribed to Jesus:
"Jesus, Son of Mary (on whom be peace) said: The World is a Bridge, pass over it, but build no houses upon it.”
In grief, we can desire for camp to hide from the pain. But what’s the point of setting up camp when life is the journey? What do we choose to hold onto?
Our wispy dreams?
They’re all leaving us. They’re not coming with us. So there’s no point in setting up camp, digging our heels in, and holding on. Forget about setting up hotels on Park Place.
The saying continues:
"He who hopes for a day, may hope for eternity; but the World endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer, for the rest is unseen.”
There’s nothing like death or grief to make everything seem useless—even time.
So, like, life sucks, right? What’s the point?
Well, what else does Jesus say? One thing he says is that we should focus on storing our treasures in Heaven.[http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6:20&version=ESV]
Typically, I notice the way people view these treasures as an eternal bank account, where you score divine Brownie points for every good deed.
I can’t stand that. I see too many assholes who think writing a cheque, or working in church leadership, or say lofty shit, or whatever, counts for the nastiness they spew elsewhere.
I’m reading C.S. Lewis’s “The Great Divorce” [http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Divorce-C-Lewis/dp/0060652950]. It follows souls to the foyer of heaven, where the souls are ministered to in hopes that these souls can acclimatize themselves to the environment of heaven.
So here’s my thought. What if, instead divine monetary exchange, WE are the treasures to be stored in heaven? What if, in each way we open ourselves to goodness and act on it, we are actually acculturating our actual selves (or soul or spirit) to the climate of our final home? That the essence of who we are is the currency that we can take with us, wherever we go, whatever we have?
To me, that would mean that hopefully, somewhere in these dead ashes, I have something to grow.