The Veil is Thin
It was a beautiful Autumn in Oregon this year. The weather was unusually dry and sunny which heightened the effect of the season. During that time, while the sun-drenched, changing leaves blazed brilliant, the birds, bees and bugs were making a final appearance and the earth was preparing to rest, my beloved Grandmother died. We were in the throes of wrapping up Soul Gardening: Winter 2014 when God called beautiful Grandma Ruth out of this world. I sent an email around letting folks know of her passing, including a short ‘eulogy’ about how I could very palpably feel her presence still near. In an email condolence, a friend wrote, ‘the veil is truly thin’.
While my courageous Grandma died as she had lived; stoically, uncomplaining, even with calm anticipation, I on the other hand, have always been terrified of death. It’s not the ‘afterlife’ that scares me. In fact, the thought of Heaven seems at the very least dreamy, at best, unfathomably glorious. It doesn’t scare me. Purgatory, mildly. I’ll totally be looking to get out, but it’s doable. Hell?…hell yes! But really, for me, it’s the actual act of dying; the physical reality of not being able to breathe, or walk, or sing, or talk. Over the past few years, however, God has been gifting me with a growing meditation that is making the thought of mankind’s shared future more desirable.
I can best describe this meditation as a slow awakening of an awareness of place. Theologically we begin in the mind of God. For my meditation, we begin in our mother’s womb. The womb is our first home. It is there that we grow and mature in the time and order ordained by Almighty God. We become familiar with the sights, sounds, textures of the womb. In the womb we are totally comfortable. Modern science has proved that in utero we are even able to feel emotions; laugh, cry. At the same time, those of us who, on the ‘outside’ are busy about and enjoying life on earth, thanks to the growing ‘bump’ are aware of the precious baby within. Anyone who sees the mother, sees the baby. And we know that the baby is one of our own. Yet though we are able, most of us do not physically communicate or even try to communicate with the baby, save through prayer. On those rare occasions when we do physically communicate with the child, it is only by invitation of the mother, ie. the baby is kicking, put your hand here, the baby has the hiccups, can you see? And so nine months pass.
While most pregnancies progress with relative stability, there are times in which intervention is necessary. Have you ever seen the awesome photograph of the baby who had heart surgery in utero? While the doctor was operating, the little boy reached his wee hand out of his mother’s womb and grasped on to the doctor’s finger. Thanks be to God for the gift of photography. That miracle moment was captured on film for time and eternity. And here’s where my meditation comes into clearer focus, too. In seeing that image, one can not help but think about that scene as an allegory for the reality of how Almighty God is present to us on earth.
As the pregnant mother’s womb for a preborn baby, so too, the earth is to us. As our mother’s womb once was comfortable, the earth is now comfortable. On earth we grow and learn. We know the earth’s sights, sounds, textures, smells. On earth we experience emotions. Like those first nine months in the womb, so is our time on earth finite. And, as all of us are aware of and able to communicate with a preborn baby, so too, Almighty God, Our Blessed Mother, the saints, angels and all of our deceased loved ones are able to communicate with us. Maybe they notice a kick, a hiccup. They are certainly involved, even tangibly felt during a heart surgery. They are all right here, all the time. But their main lifeline to us, like ours to babes in wombs, is through prayer.
Finally, I have to say that if offered the option to return to that once familiar, warm, comfortable veil of my mothers womb, truthfully, I would have to say no. Thank you very much. And so, with that in mind, maybe, just maybe, as I ripen with age, growing ever closer to my death… maybe the aches, pains, discomforts of that ripening will be, in knowledge at least, more desirable. I do not pretend that there won’t be pain, fear, tears, anxiety at the end. Have you ever known a new baby to be born in quiet coos and giggling? But, as the placenta of this earth thins and death draws near, may I keep in my mind’s eye the prize of Heaven to come and the thousands of familiar faces so joyfully eager to welcome, wash, warm and hold me for eternity at my own unveiling. And dear children of mine, if you are reading this after I have passed, please, dear babies, please always remember, the veil is truly thin. I love you.
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