Grief message – our loved ones are still with us

Our loved ones remain absent from us for as long as we mourn. Their spirit cannot intersect with ours while we grieve. They are afraid to plunge us further into the pit of despair, so they do not approach. Plus our “certainty” that they are lost to us forever in this realm creates that reality. We see what we expect to see.

Bodies are not permanent. Death is inevitable. However, we are more than our bodies. Once we open up and remember that the soul (the part that matters most) is immortal we will once again be able to interact with those who have passed.

It will be in a different way, of necessity. We will see with our hearts instead of our eyes, and we will feel with our souls instead of our bodies.

This is not a skill that Western society teaches because it isn’t even seen as possible. Western society speaks only of the afterlife – of meeting souls again only after we die. However, this connection is still possible during life. It takes practice – but more importantly, it takes knowing that it is possible. Take some time soon to “call up” your loved ones who have passed from this dimension and invite them for a chat. You’ll both be glad you did.

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God is the God of the living, not the dead

Let us consider when some Sadducees were challenging Jesus about the resurrection. This story appears in MT 22:23-33, MK 12:18-27, and LK 20:27-38. They were asking him a legalistic question about marriage and inheritance laws. They thought that they were going to trip him up on the religious authority of Moses. Just before, the Pharisees had tried to catch him up regarding civil law. Both groups were trying to discredit him by making him refute higher, established authority. This would get him in trouble with the crowds and make them leave him. It might also get him arrested – something they wanted. They desperately wanted him to stop talking and for people to stop listening to him.

Instead, Jesus turned the tables on them and taught them even more than they were asking.

Here’s my condensed version of the most important part here –

–He continued, getting to the real reason for their question. “Concerning the resurrection of the dead, don’t you remember the passage in Scriptures when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush? He said ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ We learn from this that God is the God of the living, not the dead, because in God’s eyes, all are living with him.”–

Note that God uses the present tense, not the past. If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their forefathers from thousands of years earlier, were dead in God’s eyes, God would have said “I was…” not “I am…” This is essential to his argument, and essential for us today.

If we live in faith and in accordance with God’s will, then we, the real part of us, never die. Our bodies are just vessels for our souls. Our bodies are temporary, while our souls are eternal. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were with God when God spoke to Moses in the burning bush, and are with God right now.

This is proof of eternal life. The death of the body isn’t death, not in any real sense. Jesus wanted the Sadducees to know this, and wants us to know this right now.

The hot air balloon.

Say you have a hot air balloon but it has some holes in it. You have two choices if you want to keep it aloft. Patch the holes or put more hot air into it. If you don’t, you’ll crash into trees, or even the ground.

It is hard to patch the holes while you are in motion. It is easier to do that on the ground. You can’t fly it and do it yourself. A professional might have to be hired. That is dangerous work.

So this is your life. The holes are the places where your energy leaks out. Frustrations, hurts, old injuries to your psyche. You can’t patch them on your own unless you are safely on the ground. You can’t keep on doing your daily routine like work and family. You need a safe place without any distractions. If you are going to keep on going you have to hire professional, like a counselor or a therapist. You want someone who is done this before.

Adding hot air is doing all the stuff that builds you up. It includes resting, spending time with friends, eating healthy food, getting exercise, being creative. All these things and plenty more make your spirit stronger. You have to make sure to do them regularly – not just when you feel your balloon going low. They are preventive medicine.

Even if you don’t have a hole in your balloon, the balloon starts to sink over time because the air gets cooler. You can’t wait until you notice that the balloon is sinking to add air. You have to do it before that because it takes a while for the air to start to do its job.

The soul and the body – the rider and the horse.

The soul is the rider. The body is the horse.

A horse has a mind of its own, and will want to wander. It wants to veer towards the fun things, the pretty things. It gets distracted. It gets bogged down, lost. If left on its own, it will lead you astray.

The rider’s job is to learn how to get the horse to go where is best. The rider’s job is to make sure the horse has good food, enough exercise, and proper shelter.

If the rider takes good care of the horse and controls where it goes, the horse and the rider will both benefit.

If the rider lets the horse have control, lets the horse eat whatever it wants, and only takes the horse out when he wants to go somewhere, they will both suffer.

If the soul does not take care of the body, the body will be in charge. The soul will feel trapped. The soul will not be able to do what it needs to do. It will not be able to complete its mission.

Sometimes the horse is difficult. Sometimes it is headstrong and willful. Sometimes it has a genetic weakness. Sometimes it has a bad leg.

Sometimes the rider is inept. Sometimes the rider lets the horse take over, so they end up where the horse wants to go, but not where the rider wants to go. Sometimes the rider neglects to feed the horse healthy food and the horse isn’t able to go anywhere at all.

Blinders help. Training helps. Discipline helps. This requires constant, focused work. It is OK to ask for help – you don’t have to do it all on your own.

If you can’t control your cravings, then seek help in a therapist, minister, books, or friends. Find someone or something that helps you get back on track. Make sure you aren’t exchanging one crutch for another. Learn why you keep letting your body lead you astray, or what are you doing that isn’t nurturing it.

Where is your weakness? Dig down to the root. Where did you learn that flawed coping mechanism? Unlearn, to relearn. It is never too late to start over.

Asking for help is a sign of strength. It means that you want to get stronger. It is the only way out of that hole. You’ve tried to do it yourself and failed. This is part of the test. Pride will kill you.

Every lesson is repeated until learned. You will stay in this body until you can’t learn any more from it. Then you will leave it. You may come back to try again, or go further.

Death is realizing that this body can’t get you where you need to go. Sometimes you don’t have the tools. Sometimes the body isn’t strong enough, and you don’t know how to get it that way.

The connection between death and depression.

I was just thinking recently about how the signs of death and the symptoms of depression are very similar. I think that they are related. Perhaps depression is a sign of the soul leaving the body. Perhaps the cure for depression is to find ways to get the soul to stay in the body – for the soul to find delight by being corporal.

I’ve heard that our souls choose to be here – that we want to be in a body. Souls are able to see and hear, but they cannot smell, taste, or touch. They cannot enjoy anything that comes with being in a body. They can’t enjoy the feeling from working in the garden or winning a race. They cannot enjoy the taste of home-made zucchini bread. They cannot make someone smile by bringing them a present “just because”.

Let us look at the signs of death that are also some of the symptoms of depression.

— Loss of appetite

— Excessive fatigue and sleep, and increased weakness.

— Mental confusion or disorientation

— Social withdrawal

Here is what you do with a dying person – perhaps it could also be connected to a depressed person…
– -Talk with the person gently and calmly. Assure her that she is loved, and that you will remember her. Let her know that her life mattered. She needs to know that you will be able to go on without her.

We all need to feel connected and that we matter. We need to feel like what we do has meaning. When someone is depressed, they feel alone. They feel like they are not part of the community. Even if they are in a group of people they feel separate.

Turning this around can be as simple as getting the person to get involved. Make an investment of time to call the person, take them out, help them to be part of the community. Volunteering helps. Doing art helps. Joining a club helps. People have to feel like they matter.

When you are depressed, everything seems grey. Food doesn’t taste good. Music sounds flat. Nothing goes in like it should. It is like being in a huge hole, and you don’t even have the energy to get out.

I’ve learned that when I feel depression creeping up, I realize that I’ve not been doing what I know feeds my soul. I think of the soul as being a flame, and it is important to keep it burning bright.

Getting regular exercise and eating healthy foods helps. Making time to be with friends helps. Making art helps.

Notice how these things are the opposite of the dying process.

Work on being more active – physically and socially. Work on the appetite. Eat healthy, tasty food. Be mindful of how much sleep you get. Create a schedule and stick to it. Keep your mind active – take up a hobby. Learn something new. You can combine some of these by teaching someone a skill you have.

Maybe I’ve got the cause and the effect backwards. Maybe the soul is trying to leave the body because it isn’t getting the nourishment it needs from that body. “Nourishment” means more than just vitamins and minerals. When we sit around all day and when we eat bad food, we are damaging our bodies and then by extension – our souls. When we keep to ourselves and don’t make time to connect with the community by having friends or feeling like we belong or matter, we don’t need to be in a body.

Perhaps the soul is trying to leave the body because it feels like this body isn’t serving it.

Poem – Naked before God

We have heard reports of people who have died
and come back to life
that there is a long tunnel
and a light at the end.

This sounds
exactly the same
as when a child
is being born.

When a child is being born
it goes through a tunnel
and there’s a light at the end.

Death and birth are the same.

They’re simply changes of consciousness.

They are steps from
here
to
there.

The soul does not die.
The soul is a piece of God.

The body is mortal, and decays.

When it is done, we discard it
like last season’s coat.
It no longer serves.
It no longer fits.

The weather is different
in the afterlife,
the other life.

We need shorts, or a skirt, or a sweater.

We have different shoes
for different places we go, too.

Hiking, boating, rafting, work
– all have different shoes.

There?

We need to be barefoot.

This is holy ground.

Except there, we not only
have to get rid of our shoes,
but also our clothes,
but also our bodies.

We have to take it all off.

It is that holy.

Only when nothing separates us,
when nothing is between us
and God
can we really be ourselves
with God.

Burial chamber

I was looking at the “Lakeland Cam” website today and came across this picture.

14051318carn_llidi (1)

The author describes it as “burial chamber”. He is in Pembrokeshire, Wales. On the picture’s metadata, it is labeled as Carn Llidi.

I know, in my heart, that it isn’t a burial chamber, in the sense that we mean it. Sure, there are burials there. But not in a physical sense. There are no bodies there.

It is a place for shedding off skin, like a snake. It is a place of building a cocoon if you are a caterpillar. But the snakes and the caterpillars are human, in this case.

These are deaths, sure. These are most certainly deaths, but also rebirths. These are transformations from one state to another. This is a place where people go to become human, to evolve.

It is a place to let go of old selves. It is a place to smooth off the rough bits.

It is a shelter and yet a danger. Look how it is a lean-to. If you sit under it, you’ll be protected from the sun and the rain, but you can still see and hear. You aren’t sheltered like you are if you go into a cave. But it is also a danger. Look at the size of that top rock, and how small that supporting rock is. There is a risk of death there. The rocks could shift and it is all over.

The same is true with transformation. It isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always good. Sometimes bad things happen when we go from one thing to another. Sometimes it isn’t how we planned it would be.

We transform all the time. We transform when we graduate from high school or college. We transform when we marry, have children, get that promotion. We transform when we publish a book or start a band or a business. We transform when we retire. We transform when we die.

There are often ceremonies and rituals for these transformations, these gateways. There are often special places we go to mark them.

This is one of those places.

So sure, it is a burial chamber. But it is also a nursery. It is a place to lay down the old self and pick up the new self. And there is just enough room in there for you. You bury yourself, and midwife yourself here too.