Four years ago today Jesse was alive, but only for a few more hours. He left this world sometime in the night between August 7 and 8, 2016. The most shocking thing about it is that he was alive, full of plans, and the last thing any of us imagined that that he’d be dead so soon. I suppose death is often like that. The divide between this world and the next seems like an impenetrable barrier—this life of air and food, water and flesh, seems all there is and we feel ourselves an organic part of it. It’s almost, but not quite, beyond our ability to believe that we will one day suddenly become something else—yet continue to be what we are. It’s just that what we usually believe ourselves to be is not quite true. Oh many of us know deep down that we are souls, but in day-to-day practice, when we interact with others we tend to think of them as the bodies we see walking and talking. We look in the mirror and say, “That’s me.”
If we actually truly knew we are all souls, some of us still in our mortal bodies and some not, our human interactions would be different. When friends are talking about their kids in college, I could say, “Yes my son lives in heaven now. He’s really loving it there!” and no one would look at me funny or feel uncomfortable. It would be like, your kid is in Charlottesville, mine is in heaven–just different places where souls can be as they move through their journey of learning about truth.
When my son suddenly went through that unimaginable barrier, after that first two weeks of paralyzed devastation, my quest to understand the real deal about our existence accelerated. Before his death, I was in the practice of prayer journaling, but after his death my spiritual life took on a laser focus—I had to know, not just imagine, not just believe, but KNOW—where he had gone and what is really going on with this world where people are alive and breathing and then they are gone, leaving inanimate lumps of flesh behind.
Now, after four years, I believe I have made some little progress in acquiring this “knowing.” My prayer life has become more real in that I have the sense my words are not just tossed out into the universe but are actually received by a loving God. Also my reading has become focused. I still read novels from time to time, but I am always aware of how a story plays into ultimate reality—is it earthbound or does it stretch a bit and seek some higher truth?
But prayer has been the most important factor and for me, writing is a big part of prayer. Writing allows thoughts cramped and muddled inside my head and heart to expand out and take form. This little piece right here, only a few moments ago, was a lump of feeling, an unformed pressure inside my chest. This writing is not prayer, but my prayer writing works in a similar way, only it is directed to God.
Often small revelations and sparks of comprehension come out of it. One thing I’ve found is that after death, we are still the exact same person, only without our physical body, and without the camouflage that the material world provides. Instead we have a spiritual body which has form. After this life, we are still human and we are still learning. The Heavens (for there are than one) are not places of stagnation and we don’t play harps (unless harp playing is part of your soul development—I do believe there is plenty of music!). It is helpful to pray for those who have transitioned—that their transition will be smooth and that they will receive all the help they need in their continuing journey toward greater love and truth.
I am not particularly spiritually advanced, but I think I am improving. I am still too entrenched in earthbound thinking. I am still actually bothered about people thinking I am a bit loo-loo. Even religious people become uncomfortable and sometimes roll their eyes when you speak as if the spiritual world is equally as real as this material one. Sometimes I think they feel sorry for me because (they think) I have given in, through grief, to wishful thinking. I know I am not a wishful thinker. I am pretty rigorous about not believing things just to feel better. But the fact that I am still bothered by what people might think is an indication that I have a ways to go.
Most of us, including me at times, are like the companions of Jesus, who believed he was the Messiah but could not let go of the idea that he was destined to be an earthly king who would save them from their Roman oppressors. Understandable, when you are limited to an earthbound understanding hof reality, especially when your oppressor is regularly crucifying and enslaving your people by the thousands. We all know in our hearts this world ain’t right and we know our efforts to fix it always seem to fail, so it’s natural to seek a savior with the power to make it better.
But Jesus wasn’t kidding around when He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He wasn’t telling a fairy tale nor was he appealing to wishful thinking. He was speaking of another world that is more real than this one. I want to take that kingdom world he clearly spoke of seriously, to believe in its reality as much as I believe in Charlottesville.
My son drove me to this quest for knowledge, but it’s no longer only about following Jesse to wherever he went. I have found in my heart that it is true, that God’s love is what sustains this and all worlds, and God’s love, when we seek it, is what lifts us to awareness of the better, eternal existence, our real home. There all is transparent and we are what we really are. Pretense disappears. In St. Paul’s famous words: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known.” (KJV 1 Cor 13:12) It should not matter if anyone else believes as I do. We are all individually responsible for our own spiritual progress.
I believe the more we seek for that knowing and being known, the more prepared we will be to enter joyfully into the truer and longer-lasting life after this one. So my next step is to try to be more faithful to what I know to be true and less dragged down by earthbound belief systems. The closer I come to knowing truth down to the core of my soul, the less sharp the pain of grief. I don’t know if, in this world, I will ever get to the point of feeling Jesse’s early transition to the spirit world is as okay as if he lived in another state, but I do know the day will come when it won’t be an issue. We will meet in the next world. For now I work to prepare my soul for that joyous day.