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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Is there really life after death?

It's Saturday!  Love the weekends, it is a great time to just spend with family.  It is also a time that I get to reflect on my week, catch up on what I need to get done, and just relax.  

Today began like it always does for me, I am up early, jump in the shower, take the dog out, etc.,etc.  One would think I could sleep in on Saturdays, but I love mornings, they are so full of promise.  Besides I don't want to miss a minute of any precious day.  

Over the past few weeks I have begun meeting with two other women from my parish.  We meet around 8-8:30 a.m. to prepare for our bible sharing hour that takes place every Sunday after Mass.  It has been very interesting and lots of fun.  Today was no exception, we discussed two of the readings, the first reading (2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14) and the Gospel (Luke 20:27-38), and then developed questions that relate the scriptures to our day-to-day lives. 

As we read and then reflected on this weekends readings, we all talked about the common theme, life after death.  The promise of a new life, and the belief that we will all be together again.  As I have stated before, this faith and belief that I will see my daughter, father and all my loved ones, keeps me sane, it sustains me. 

We continued our reflection and discussion, and it was amazing to hear three different prospectives on the same theme.  One of the woman is dealing with the illness of her mother, and the probability that her cancer may not be completely curable.  She watches her mother suffer through the pain and treatments, and dies a little with her each time.  For her the scriptures let her know that her mother would be able to complete her journey here on earth, would be whole again, believing that there would be no more pain or suffering.  

For the other, it is this knowledge that this life isn't it, that there is so much more, there is something to look forward to.   There is hope, there is the promise, that we live again, that we are free from all suffering.  

Of course all this talk about life after death, brought out questions and comments about our loved ones.  The hardest part to deal with is not being able to see them again, physically.  That they are no longer with us.  But yet, have they gone completely?  I really believe they remain ever present to us.  I have read so many accounts of people who have communicated with their deceased loved ones.  I have had dreams with Rachel and my Dad, and even with other deceased relatives.  

Yes, we do not see them, they are no longer flesh and blood, but I strongly believe they are with us.  You see their face in a relative, you hear their laughter and voice reflected in someone else's.  Someone says or does something the reminds you of your loved one.  For me these are just simple things that let us know that they are with us. 

My grandson is 9 1/2 months old, and if you ask him where's Auntie Rachel, he begins to look around for her photo.  When he doesn't spot her picture, he simply looks up.  I don't know why he looks up, but he does.  If he spots her picture, he actually will play a little game.  He will stare at her face, look away, and then look again and smile.  It is as if they are playing peekaboo.  

Oh to be as carefree and naive as a small child.  They are so open and receptive to everything around them.  They unlike us, have no bias, no preconceived ideas, and they are willing to learn and experience everything that comes their way.  They see with eyes that are not clouded over by any prejudice.  

After Rachel's death, I learned to be more trusting, more open.  At first I would not share any unexplainable circumstances, because I knew people would automatically assume that I had 'lost it,' after all I was a grieving mother.  Now I share openly any experiences that let me know Rachel is near.  From dreams, to my little niece having long conversations with Rachel, and even to my poor dog being tossed off the love seat.  At first people just thought these were musings of my mind, but as they witnessed and heard some of these things, they began to realize there is something else.  This life isn't it, and we do communicate and in turn they communicate with us.  

So many of us wonder if there really is something else after death.  I personally believe there is, but of course that is my belief.  For so many of you, your religious or cultural beliefs will have an impact on how you view life and death.  Throughout history, cultures have believed that this is not it.  There is something more.  Egyptians believed that the deceased went into the after life, and they made sure that they were buried with everything they may need once they crossed over from mortal life to eternal life.  For Hindu's throughout history, there is the belief of rebirth until we 'get it right,' and then the promise of eternal life.  

There is a lot of information on this topic, just Google 'belief in the afterlife,' or 'life after death' and you will get a slew of data.  For this post I referenced, which is student written papers on various topics.  The one I read was entitled: 'The Great Unknown - Some Views of the Afterlife,' they discuss the various religious and cultural beliefs.  It makes for very interesting reading.

I personally hold on to the belief that I will see my daughter again, that this life is just another leg of our journey.   We are simply passing through this life, building lasting relationships, and making a little bit of heaven for those we encounter on our way.  Each of us helping others with their burdens, sharing the journey, and leaving a special imprint on everyone we have had the pleasure to meet.

Rachel did that, she built friendships, she made others feel special, she helped carry their load, and she definitely left her mark on the world.  We are all called to be present for each other, to make this journey through life worthwhile, whatever our beliefs may be.  Just think of the last person that made you smile, that helped you carry your load, or just kept you company while you waited.  Wasn't it a great feeling, didn't you feel special, cared for.  I know that whenever a stranger just shares a smile, I remember it, it feels good, and when something isn't going quite right, it kind of bubbles up to remind me that someone cared. 

So love completely, live fully, and enjoy the gifts life has given you. 

Blessings! and until we meet again.

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