Indeed, time is a fickle thing, albeit a creation of our feeble human minds as a result of our inability to comprehend and understand the vastness and pervasiveness of God, the Universe and Eternity. Endless phrases have been captured (over time) characterizing and lamenting its stronghold over our human lives:
“Time is of the Essence”
“Can’t seem to find the Time”
“No Time like the present”
“I don’t have Time for this”
“There’s never Time to do it right, but always Time to do it over”
“Time waits for no man”
“Time heals all wounds”
“Use your Time wisely”
“Having the Time of your life”
In truth, time is but a fabrication and rationalization of our minds in an attempt to avoid confusion and chaos. Simply, time helps us comprehend our existence within the limits of our knowledge. Now, let’s shift our perspective and view time from a spiritual perspective. As Christians, one of the tenets of our faith is the awareness and acceptance that each of us are born as imperfect beings, having inherited that imperfection as a result of the Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The true beauty of Christianity, however, is that by being born again via Baptism, we are cleansed from sin’s blemish on our soul and are blessed to have the opportunity to live this earthly life in God’s Light, striving to become like Him, understanding that at times, we will falter and sin. And in the wisdom of our Creator, He provided a mechanism for us to redeem ourselves of sins via repentance, along with his Grace via forgiveness.
“Yes, faith is a peculiar construct, however, those that possess it do not perceive it to be peculiar at all. For you see, the expectation of faith is the realization that a life lived in God’s Light, following His Word, supported by love, kindness, humility, forgiveness and goodwill/intent, will be rewarded by the Perfect and eternal life in heaven, at some Future moment.”
Thus, the Future Perfect tense of life; My Life. I have but one breathtaking, awe-inspiring, profound, loving and Blessed word to describe this expectation in my life…. Hallelujah! Be well my friends. Watch and Listen…. and be brought to tears in the Joy of knowing Christ. God Bless You.
And for you “boomers”, let’s take a walk back in Time and relive another memory.
And something for the more mellow of us.
Lastly, how much Time do you have left?
There is a term in business that serves as a “how to” approach to problem solving and it focuses on the difference between a desired state and current state. In other words, this is the vision of where we want to be versus where we are. It is appropriately called a “Gap Analysis” and it defines and measures the gap between present reality and a desired future reality.
One might wonder, “What does a Gap Analysis have to do with being a Christian?” At face value, perhaps not much. If you view and contrast, however, the vision of humanity and life that Jesus aspires each of us to achieve in the Bible versus our reality as sinners struggling to behave Christ-like; amazingly, a Gap Analysis approach may be very apropos.
Part of the struggle to live as a Christian, walking in Jesus’s path, is being able to visualize and encapsulate our thoughts, actions and behaviors in a way that emulates the “rules” of God as Jesus lived. At the foundation of Christianity lie the “Ten Commandments”. Let’s begin by labeling them as the desired or future state. Aligning our lives with this desired state constitutes compliance and fulfills the requirements of Christianity, albeit a perfect existence, virtually impossible to achieve as we are imperfect by definition.
As the Golden Gate Bridge was created (constructed) in 1937, it served one monumental and macroscopic purpose, to bridge the gap between San Francisco and Marin County in California. Prior to its existence, traveling 4,200 ft over water to reach a destination (desired state) may have been considered impossible to achieve; much like living the perfect Christian life in accordance to the Bible.
And much like the Golden Gate Bridge transforms a perceived impossibility into reality, Christians can benefit from this example to effectively move toward the desired state (living in accordance to the Ten Commandments as defined in the Bible). This can be accomplished by adopting a perspective of maintaining focus on the end-goal or destination, and not becoming overwhelmed or preoccupied with other things, while progressing toward it.
We are many times distracted in life by seemingly monumental issues and goals, that when placed in proper perspective, are in reality, insignificant. Issues like technology, social norms, leisure, peer pressure, group-think, etc. which over time, unguarded, become false gods in and of themselves.
“The bridge that can effectively transform this perceived impossibility into reality for Christians, is realistically, a collective set of practices that work together to create the necessary synergy to overcome hurdles, face failure, recognize success and realize Christian principles. As the Golden Gate bridge is constructed of many materials, each serving a specific function, the Everyday Christian must likewise employ several approaches to yield the desired state.”
Integral to this end are Prayer, Reflection, Forgiveness, Humility, Kindness, Obedience, Respect, Discipline, Faith and above all, Love. As the Gospel of Thomas indicates, “the Kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty.”
A life of humble, authentic and sincere means can easily become a more significant presence and example of Christianity, than one of importance, recognition, fame and financial means. It is always intent that is paramount as opposed to method. What matters most is what dwells within your heart. Indeed, these are the “Living Years”. Be well.
Children have long been referred to as the key to our future, and rightly so as they will inherit the world and eventually reside, influence and lead it as adults. From a theological sense, however, there have been many references to the guarantee of a place in heaven, much akin as the key to heaven, being the ability to see and live life through the eyes of a child.
What then, could it possibly mean to see through the eyes of a child? At a minimum, it is the absence of filters, pure honesty and innocence magnified. Moreover, it is authenticity, vulnerability and kindness without compromise, without prejudice nor fear.
The eyes of a child represents a naive, positive and pure observation of reality, absolute and unaltered in semantics and virtue. The eyes of a child observes the world with pure honesty, with unlimited potential, with absolute faith, blamelessness and harmlessness with the totality of purity of thought. Indeed, the eyes of a child sees the world framed in goodwill, truth and possibility.
And so it is quite profound and beautiful when the world is perceived without reproach. True beauty is not only possible, but exclusively witnessed through the eyes of the child. It is vision without disease or destruction. The eyes of child create happiness, truth and singular compassion for others without hesitation or reservation.
Could it be possible to replicate this experience as an adult? Can we learn how to see the world through the eyes of a child? What is preventing us from eliminating the interference and distractions of our world? Can we literally visualize and see the impact and consequence of God without fictitious alteration or contextual embellishment?
It is no wonder we covet childhood as we grow and mature into adulthood. The pure joy of experiencing life without adversity solidifies endless possibility and faith in mankind. It is no wonder that the most profound insight and revelation of life is witnessed exclusively by children. The essence of sinless beauty and proper perspective equates to a visual paradise of thought and consciousness.
Without question it is the journey we must embark upon to guarantee our transformation to eternal salvation. Physical death is only a partial transfiguration of the soul. Without seeing through the eyes of a child we are imprisoned spirits unable to escape our mortality.
The key to heaven rests with our perception of life and whether we choose to do and see the good in others and the world around us. I choose to believe and embrace the possibilities of goodwill and brotherhood as Christmas reminds us to think like a child. Let us remember our beginning in the hope of accepting and creating our future. Pray that we can behave and experience this special season as we did when we were innocent, young and full of joy and hope. Be well.
I marvel at American culture and society as both are viewed as experts at the fabrication of self-serving “truths” which subsequently serve as guidelines for future expectations and norms. Indeed, (collectively) it has produced “reality television” and the self-admiration society via The Emmy’s, Oscar’s, People’s Choice, Golden Globe’s, Grammy’s, etc., ad nauseam.
We are great! Just ask us and we’ll tell you. In fact, we have self-indulged to the point that many people have come to worship actors, television series, people’s lives, technology, pets, social media and even their cellphones! Can you say “False Gods?” (I knew you could).
Seriously, as an understatement, American society has regressed, or should I say, digressed, to the point of spending a vast majority of our waking moments fixated on inanimate, grossly unimportant and borderline OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) behaviors.
Likewise, we (collectively) have gravitated toward irresponsible, unaccountable, immature and brazenly poor judgment about life, priorities, personal decisions and values. By most measures, we are behaviorally and socially “Going to Hell in a Handbasket.”
We spend the lion’s share of our lives pursuing these things at the expense of truly appreciating, valuing and teaching the essence and significance of our lives to our children; and then in the same breath, wonder in amazement as we repeatedly see mass shootings, violent crimes, total and utter disregard for human life, immoral behavior and absent accountability from our children, all at shockingly young ages.
And we wonder why?
Yet, at that ever-so-conspicuous point in each of our lives (right before death), we magically “find” and beg God for forgiveness and plead for just one more day of life, or one more day with some person, or one more chance to “get it right.” Pretty pathetic, yes?
Looking back from that forward “place”, where has God gone? Why has He abandoned that person? Isn’t God supposed to be all-forgiving, kind and eternally loving? Funny, I don’t recall ever hearing about God’s Greatness, even His existence, from so many of the people I see, know and/or observe as I interact with them on a regular basis.
In essence, God has become the instant gratification deity like a pacifier to a child. And then, when WE determine we no longer need God, we conveniently and expeditiously return Him to the remote corners of our brains and our lives. Sound familiar?
I have developed and drawn my own hypothesis about God, specifically, the vehicle of Faith as it serves to acknowledge, reveal, summon and interact, with God.
“Largely, I believe faith is an instinct, as is breathing, sleeping, loving and yes, even dying.”
It is primarily involuntary as evidenced by all the professional athletes that point skyward or perform the “Sign of the Cross” both before and/or after a successful “play” in their respective sport. We have no trouble believing the Hollywood animation of Avatar, special effects of Jurassic Park, or the flying ability of Superman.
Yet we struggle to believe in a God who performs miracles on a daily basis, who saves victory from the grips of evil, who promised mankind an eternity in that place called Heaven. We struggle, I contend, because we know, deep down in our soul and spirit, that God is indeed real and we have consequently taken Him for granted.
Accordingly, my challenge to you is to contemplate the reality and search for the presence of God in your life, because He most assuredly is there, if only you take the time to look for Him, to seek Him in times of trouble, and most importantly, speak to Him in gratitude for every waking day, every exhilarating breath, and every precious moment that you spend with the people you love in this life.
Although He is all these things, God doesn’t need to be perceived as incredible, supernatural, omnipotent, powerful or almighty. I’m sure He would be very satisfied if only to be perceived as real and eternal.
Ironically, tomorrow is Good Friday, the day all Christians have been taught that Jesus was put to death. More importantly, Sunday is the Christian celebration of Easter, the quintessential event and the remembrance/celebration of the day Jesus was resurrected from the Dead.
Faith is as real as the air we breathe, the water we drink and the wind that escorts birds across the sky. All we should need is a moment of gratitude, an act of kindness and a magnificent sunset to pay homage to our creator. There will be plenty of time to watch our favorite television series as well as March Madness.
Instinctively, Love conquers all. And Love is God. Be well.
This article is dedicated to a dear and missed professional associate who I just learned had tragically passed away in January, Chad Davis. God have mercy on his soul and grant him eternal life. (1970 – 2013)
- How Do You Talk To Your Kids About Easter? (matthewruttan.com)
- Archbishop Chaput’s Weekly Column: Holy Week (gloucestercitynews.net)
- Believing Without Seeing – Normalizing Faith (cerkas.wordpress.com)
- Without the Resurrection (kimstaniforthblog.wordpress.com)
- I Believe in God the Father, 33-40 (excitedcatholic.com)
- Rusty Nail (poetscircle.wordpress.com)
- Our Faith (everydayordinarythoughts.wordpress.com)
- Good Friday’s Good News (probings.wordpress.com)
- A Good Friday Reflection: The Narrative of Redemption (prodigal.typepad.com)
As this site name implies, I strive to produce inspiring, compelling and thought-provoking content. Ok, so this time, two out of three isn’t bad. Seriously, by the time you finish reading this piece, you will be inspired; to learn more, to live more, to BE more! Wouldn’t you call that inspiring?
Death is one of those words and labels that typically causes people discomfort, anxiety and fear; I contend, all unfounded. Since early childhood, we have been programmed and conditioned to avoid thinking about death, talking about death and most importantly, planning for death. Is it no surprise, then, when it comes knocking (and you know it WILL), we as a human race, are grossly unprepared to deal with it?
And it gets worse from there. If you look up the word ‘death’ in the dictionary, here is a sample of what you will find from one source:
“The end of life; the total and permanent cessation of all the vital functions of an organism. Extinction; Destruction; Termination; a Murder or Killing”.
My, how Inspiring, Uplifting and Positive that is, yes?
For my perspective, death is like any other concept in the world in that each person’s unique perspective of their world creates their respective “filter” of life, thought and reaction. I’ve always, yes always, had the gift of seeing things at a macro level, much higher than most others. That gift has enabled me to view most everything in the world as a subset of something greater. That approach has also provided me with an abundant supply of patience, tolerance and understanding.
When I see or think about a pair of shoes, I can’t think of them without the corresponding visual of how they look on me as I wear them. If I focus on an apple, I see the tree, and the orchard. It’s akin to zooming way out on Google Maps, ultimately seeing the earth as a subset of the solar system, the solar system as a subset of the galaxy, the galaxy as a subset of the universe; and the universe as a subset of heaven.
My point is that there are not very many things in this world that stand on their own, alone. And that frame of mind also legitimately applies to people, work, life and yes, death.
Perhaps the Irish have it right, they are one of the few cultures that celebrate at a funeral, express happiness for the individual that passed on; hopeful of and for, what comes next. It’s called the Irish Wake. Additionally, people of Ghana likewise have perfected the over-the-top funeral as a celebration of the deceased person’s life.
I am convinced that death is not a finality, end or a void. Rather, I prefer to view death as a transformation, a door, one event (as in birth) on an eternal continuum line of consciousness and existence… dare I say, Life! As the clouds and the oceans are continuous and seemingly endless, so is our existence.
We, as human beings, are simply very limited in our self-taught concepts of what life really is and means that we can not comprehend with that knowledge and our experience, the true multi-dimensional reality of life in the larger sense of eternity.
I’ve read several books focused on the subjects of NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) and the construct of Heaven. I am far, far and away, no expert on the subject, however, firmly believe and wholeheartedly accept the reality and existence of both. Two of these books that I would recommend to others to read include: Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back and Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.
Most certainly and notably, I am in the midst of writing my own book focused on this life and what is beyond… it is entitled, “Not in Vein – Miracle within my Soul”.
There are also countless documented accounts of people that have clinically “died”, experienced heaven and/or hell, and then have been sent back to life, to share their experience with others. Below are two accounts that vividly depict their respective journeys.
- Neurosurgeon claims heaven is real following near-death experience (wtkr.com)
- Scientists Discuss What Happens To The ‘Soul’ After Death (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Dr. Raymond Moody’s Autobiograhpy (moinarc.wordpress.com)
- Up With The Birds (gwwam.wordpress.com)
- The Loss in Death (sincerelyourstruly.wordpress.com)
- ‘Heaven Changes Everything’ author talks about book [Video] (myfox8.com)
- My Trip to Heaven (shelleywilliamsblog.com)
- San Antonio Woman Talks About Near-Death Experience (woai.com)
As I have contemplated many times and I suspect others have as well, do animals have a soul? Do they have their own heaven separate from us humans, do they share our space upstairs or do they even have a heaven? My thoughts have occasionally drifted in that direction as a direct result of first-hand experience with those hairy, slurpy and affectionate members of the canine family for many years of my life.
Originating when I was an adolescent, dogs have continuously been a part of my life. Without direction or suggestion, I have always considered my dogs/pets as literal members of my family. They eat, sleep, walk, play and interact with us daily. More importantly, they tirelessly exhibit behavior that mimics the most devout religious person, i.e., they sin, repent (some would call it begging), pray (for a treat or a walk) and conduct themselves in a manner congruent to someone who possesses a deep faith from the sense of not being distracted or disheartened from absence, discipline, joy or injury. When you are away from them or them away from you, regardless of the amount of time from minutes, to hours, days, weeks or longer, when they subsequently see you again it’s as if it were the first time they met you all over again.
Indeed, I’ve initially believed that, in conforming opinion from so-called Dog Psychologists and Comedians, that when you leave, the dog thinks (or perhaps relates) that you are simply gone; period. However, over the years as I’ve had numerous pets of varying canine species, I’ve reached the conclusion that their behavior upon separation from me has nothing to do with knowing or not knowing if I will return, but more so, a rooted belief in the knowledge that I simply will return. They truly have faith!
And not only faith in the biblical sense, but an intense sense of loyalty and friendship, as the two sentiments are pretty much inseparable as my pets are with me. When a person takes the time to fervently analyze and evaluate these characteristics of people, much less dogs (pets), you will quickly reach the understanding and realization that instead of always wishing that our dogs would behave more like us, in truth, it is we who should behave more like them.
In the sense of faith, friendship and loyalty, a dog will stay by your side when they sense you are injured, sad or in need of help. They know that their simple presence will provide emotional support and in fact, will enhance your disposition and support and enhance your well-being. Regardless of the “sins of their past”, dogs will be loyal to you until the day, hour, minute and second they pass on. And like any close or good friend, a dog will always focus on the present, protect you when you are in danger and willingly provide an open ear to listen to your troubles as they arise, never offering their opinion unless asked.
Of all the breeds of dogs I have encountered, one stands out above the rest and aligns with my personality, sense of humor, fair play and companionship; the Golden Retriever. Their playful, laid-back, yet sophisticated and refined sense of being not only comforts in times of need, but also heals in both tangible and intangible ways. They always appear to be smiling, have eyes that can melt an iceberg and truly appear to be able to understand my every mood, voice tone, command and suggestion in life.
So, I ask again, do animals have a soul? Do they have their own heaven separate from we humans, do they share our space upstairs or do they even have a heaven? My answers are unequivocally, Yes!, No, Yes and emphatically, Yes!
Each Golden I have ever been privileged to be adopted by has taught me many things about myself, life and what is good in the world. When you lose one, any one (every one), as they are all close, it creates a discernible and significant void as much as losing any family member. Here is a tribute I wrote to address the grief I experienced when I lost my Golden “Sampson” at age seven after a very brief battle with cancer.