Sometimes, well, actually pretty often, I come to think that we live our lives upside down and inside out. What we appreciate in life, I have come to think, may be just the frivolous rosettes on top of the cake’s icing.
On the other hand, what is most important, I’m not sure we recognize at all.
I remember receiving my “last” lesson (even though it wasn’t my last lesson in time, I guess it was the last lesson in God’s manual for me). I was in my twenties. Fairly young to be receiving the “last” word of God, in my opinion. Although at what age do you think a person is fit to receive anything from God, last thoughts or otherwise?
The “last” lesson goes something like this: Question: Why are we here? Answer: To experience.
I remember my reaction even to this day. It went something on the lines of: huh.
We’re here to experience.
Skin. Nerves. The cerebrum.
That’s why God created us.
And a few weeks ago I found myself in a conversation about the soul, how it exists after our body doesn’t. After our experiencing stops.
Or does the soul have its own method of experiencing?
Now there’s a question worth pondering, don’t you think?
Never mind. Back to business.
And during this conversation, which was not meant to get me started on anything, I felt a jolt of electricity because I began to see what was meant by, to experience.
If our souls are a form of energy that returns to Earth, how does that energy evolve? How does it change? After all, what importance is life if it does not allow God to create it? Form it. Mold it.
I am beginning, after all these decades, to begin to understand the functioning of the normal soul. I am beginning to begin to appreciate that our soul energy spends its life on Earth being grown, molded, and changed. By our actions. By our decisions. By our epiphanies.
It’s in us, and what we do, think, and come to believe shapes it.
Our experience may be a bad one, but if our approach to it ends in bringing us understanding and growth, then our soul flourishes. If, instead, a bad experience leaves us completely bitter and unforgiving, then the energy of our soul suffers. It, too, becomes acidic, stifling growth, affecting our relationships and our experience of life.
And so I sat there in this electrifying conversation and saw the importance of our purpose to experience.
Without a body, and all those things that go along with our ability to experience, we cannot get down on our knees. We cannot have a relationship with God. We cannot, as it were, sit across the table from him and try to get to know him.
You, there, without a body but is yet infused in every cell that is on Earth; you, there, who cannot speak directly to us but yet is in every breath and tone and rhythm; you, there, who cannot experience a turkey dinner with stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce but yet who fulfills our every need; so you, there, what’s up?
We have managed to find our way to prayer, active and contemplative. We can sing with joy in our hearts, or with pain searing our hearts. We can just sit and wait for inspiration, or we can go out and shake the love out of our neighbors by getting them to be active in healing the world.
In our limited bodies, that we just love to complain about, we can say, I’m sorry.
I wonder how healing to the soul an apology is.
And we can also forgive.
We can sit on the side of a lake, or in a dark corner of a cathedral, or at our father’s gravestone, and can put our anger aside, piece by piece. Spit by spit. Memory by memory. Word by word.
We can let go.
I wonder how healing to the soul forgiveness is.
In our blundering blindness and ignorance we can learn the will of God in action. We can learn to put aside anger and resentment. We can learn to put a hand under the arm of someone we disapprove of and help them up the stairs. We can learn to speak up when we have spent a lifetime of being agreeable. We can learn to be agreeable after a lifetime of asserting ourselves.
We can cooperate with God in finding ways to ease of pain of those around us.
But, most of all, in our bodies, in our experience, we can face our powerlessness.
We can surrender to the knowing that we never really move out of our helplessness as a baby. Not really. We may have learned to feed ourselves. We may have learned to drive a car from New York to Wyoming. We may have learned to scale a mountain.
But, in truth, our experience of life can teach us that we are nothing without God.
And what a truly life-enhancing experience that is.