I’ve been thinking rather a lot about death lately. Have you heard the chestnut about Grandma reading the Bible as a way of cramming for her finals? Like that. So, being an old guy with one out and nobody on in the top of the ninth, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the after party.
I don’t think that this is all there is. As far as I can remember, all the religions with which I have a nodding acquaintance believe that this life we more or less share is just a temporary stop-off on an eternal journey. Of course, religious differences can involve any number of things, from whether we’ve been alive before this to what happens afterward, not to mention what we ought to be doing while we’re fumbling around here and now.
Still, most of us agree that this life is not the end of everything, and on this one I’m with the majority. It’s apparently the end of our personalities—and good riddance in some cases—but not the end of some essence that continues no matter what happens to our physical bodies. Let’s call it Rover.
I do get hints now and then that maybe I’ve experienced something like life before. I don’t mean this current persona I’ve cobbled together this time around; I don’t think I’ve done this particular number at any other time. It’s just that some feelings are eerily familiar and trigger sensations I can’t explain other than by accepting that a lot has gone on of which I’m only hazily aware. Of course, the older I get, the more that’s true anyway, which complicates things.
I was baptized, confirmed and reared in the Episcopal church, and I know enough about Christianity to reject most flavors, mostly because they were made up long after the fact, they use way too many words and they pretend Jesus was a Christian, which, of course, he wasn’t. Too much extrapolation.
Jesus seems not to have said much, or at least nobody’s even claiming to know much of whatever he said, and when it comes to the basics, including death and the thereafter, I think Jesus and a few others got it right. There’s love and the kingdom within and eternal life, and you get what you believe. The rest is politics.
For most of my life the question for me has been, “When all this looks like more trouble than it’s worth, why not just punch out and go sitteth on the right hand of the metaphorical Father, leaving the rest of you to fend for yourselves, which is what we all have to do anyway?”
I don’t know, except for the part about getting what you believe. That’s what stops me, and that’s where I begin all over again and again to try to remember the parts about love and the kingdom within and eternal life. Did I mention forgiveness?
So I’ve settled on being a Jesus imitator—very tricky, but God’s illiterate, so at least it’s simple. See you in the afterlife.