I’ve been giving a lot of thought, lately, to the eternity of life. And the presence of mortality. The strange and bitter irony of going through a lifetime of exploration and accomplishment, only to reach the end.
How odd… Is this what it all comes down to, at the end of a striving, living, thriving, struggling, learning, expressing, loving, hating, fearing, courageous, hoping, dreading lifespan?
Why in heaven’s name would we go through all this, just to peter out to… nothing?
Since it’s Easter, and since I was raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition, with my childhood steeped in the stories of the Bible, from Genesis on… through the generations of the Israelites… the prophets… the warriors… the sinners and saints… and on through the New Testament, with all its theologically labyrinthine teachings, well, it seems only fitting that I should dwell on the eternity of life at this time.
Spring is in the air — sort of.
New life is making itself known in the buds of trees and the emergence of lilies and tulips in the flower beds.
The deer are coming down off the mountain, hungry after the long, long winter and looking for fresh shoots in my gardens.
I have started a new job, am in the process of unraveling yet more health issue conundrums, and despite all that I’ve been through, despite all the roadblocks and the problems and the setbacks and discouragements… I’m still here.
I’m still standing.
Feeling a great sense of accomplishment, tempered with the acrid taste of mortality’s inevitability at the back of my mouth, in the back of my mind.
Surely, I have not come through all this for naught.
Surely, life must be eternal.
Now, not everyone ascribes to the Christian faith, I know. And different Christians have different interpretations of Easter. Different peoples all over the world of different faiths mark this hopeful time of year in different ways, each one revealing another aspect of the many aspected Divine jewel we call the Human Experience. “Eternal” can mean many things to many people, each meaning just a little “other” than the others.
And when I really think about it, as much as I want to believe in an afterlife, as much as I may be attracted to the idea of my spirit never really disappearing, but taking on different forms in different places, the fact remains that in the back of my mind, there is some small seed of doubt. Some folks shun doubt with all their might, as though it were a cancer or a pox. Others welcome it with open arms. I strike an uneasy balance with it, eyeing it from a distance like a hiker eyes a grizzly bear they’ve come across suddenly, foraging in the berry bushes in the fall.
I guess what it all boils down to for me, is that in whatever shape and whatever form I may ascribe to it, my life is indeed eternal. Whether I be spirited up to the heavens to join a personal lord and savior, or I be reborn in another place and time as a different person with a different set of lessons to learn, or I be turned into earth that then turns into new life of plants… which become the animals that eat them… which become meat for other animals… which become human life yet again in the eventual cycle of feeding… there must necessarily be an aspect of me that is eternal.
Perhaps my words will live on after I am gone. Perhaps the good deeds I have done, which made more life possible for others, will live through the lives I’ve helped in big ways and small. Perhaps the simple fact of my presence has been of assistance. I can only hope. And look for more opportunities to help some more — or at least do no harm.
In the end, it becomes far too vast and incomprehensible for me to follow, to untangle, to make sense of. So, I leave it at the simplest of statements that gleams with the faint sheen of faith:
Surely, we must be eternal.