On Dying

For many years, I have felt a certainty that I will continue beyond physical death.

95% of the time, this comforts me, and I rely on it in times of thoughts of death.

Sometimes, though, my mind decides to play devil’s advocate, and I think about the alternative.

The pleasant reality is that I have come to appreciate both possibilities.

It seems there are two, given my …current circumstances.

1. I die, and there is life after death, and the REAL adventure begins!

2. I die, and that’s it. I finally have some peace and quiet, and never again will anything pain or suffer me again.

The pondering of #1 is like winning the lottery, but better. More like an eternal lucid dream… awareness after death…eternal

awareness…never dying…

The pondering of #2 is peace….eternal peace. After all of life’s pains, annoyances, fears, frustrations, worries, suffering, and

grief….never again. Never a single other suffering. FOREVER peace.

Both of these sound pretty spectacular to me.

Unfortunately, a third thought has popped up.

No, it’s not Hell.
No. I’m not much of a hell ponderer.

I go back several years to a quote that stuck in my mind…. a quote that has niggled my mind and gently troubled me for years.

Only recently has it really meant so much to me.

John Donne:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the

sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s

death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for

thee.

Queerly, it isn’t an intellectual draw.

It’s something stranger and deeper. It’s in my bones, my blood, my cells, if you will.

Read this again. I mean it very, very strongly.

How can you know your brother is going to hell, and not care? How can you think ANYONE is going to hell, and not care? Is

it not like going to hell yourself?

How can you ascend to heaven, knowing your brethren are descending to hell?

I could not.

And I ponder it, in those dark times when I think about the rotting, the dead, the worms eating me… (no, I didn’t just make that

up…I got it from my Baptist Minister grandfather..of all places…yet at what point in life he said it, I do not know. Perhaps it was

when he was dying, young, from uremic poisoning and looked into my still then idealistic and religious father’s eyes with a look

my father would later claim as saying, “This has all been bullshit.”)

Why is it dark? Because I think, selfishly, oh, the relief from life’s miseries, if instead of afterlife, we really die, worms eating us,

as the athiest proclaims,what a wonderful, pleasant relief….

but no.

John Donne still haunts me.

Damn you, John Donne.

I think about that tiny, tiny, tiny little possibility….that possibility that maybe we really DO rot in the ground, worms eating us, as

Grandpa Lunsford said, and I think, no…you cannot relax, and finally achieve relief.

There are others you are interweaved with, entwined with, who are suffering…those who you leave behind…who continue to live

and breath and breed and suffer and die and yearn…and it goes on and on and on and on and on…forever and ever and

ever…and how can you relax and have any kind of relief knowing you are entertwined with these…souls…and that they will

continue striving on and suffering?

How could I possibly believe, Pappy Lunsford, that at the end, suffering and in pain and dying, that we are really just primates,

and it was all for naught, and the worms eat us?

How you must have felt when you you passed over and found out differently.

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Controlling Your Emotions Through Expression

It was a few weeks ago when wallowing in one of my longer-lasting emotional valleys that I suddenly remembered something that had vaguely caught my interest a couple years back in Bio Psych class. It was about the James-Lange theory. (Here’s a synopsis of it: http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/james_lange_emotion.htm

Common View:

Scary Happening ——-> Fear —————> Running Away Lange Theory

Scary Happening——–>Running Away ——>Fear

I got to thinking about all this, when I was in my Doldrums Mode. And I decided to experiment. For one full day. I decided to smile. ALL DAY. Now, part of my Doldrums Mode experience was that two things that were happening dissipated:

1. I was rolling and saturating in past experiences. I could not stop rubbing my own nose in my past screw ups, dumb-asseries, and uglinessess. And, oh Lord, what simple things some of them were… very, very simple little silly things nobody would ever remember except me, and I was slamming my face into them, over and over. Looking back, it was like a sick, subconscious attempt at “flooding” (a technique used in behavior therapy; client is flooded with experiences of a particular kind until becoming either averse to them or numbed to them) , but for the purpose of changing reactions to memories this time, rather than phobia control. Well, it wasn’t working. The shocking result #1 of my neurological smile experiment was this: when I dredged up these memories with a big grin on my face, THE SHAME DISSIPATED. This is so huge you may just sort of overlook it. It’s one of those things the human mind doesn’t really grasp so well. Author Whitley Streiber said when something is TOO bizarre, the brain ignores it. Makes sense. You will probably not believe this, but on that day, my past-pain-wallowing STOPPED.

2. Shocking result number two. During this smile experience, I realized that IT WAS MORE DIFFICULT TO REMEMBER THE ACTUAL PAINFUL DETAILS OF AN EVENT.

——————————————————————

Now, I am not a neurologist. (I only play one in my more imaginative manic moods, hardy har. ) But this seems like some pretty heavy stuff, and it bears further experimentation. I also noticed that when I thought of stereotypically sad things that didn’t particularly bother me, and then put on a mock-tragic expression of sadness, that I seemed to feel sadder. Here is a simple article on the subject. I highly recommend doing your own experiments…

Here’s an article that touches upon it a bit…

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1871687,00.html

BTW…I am a courier, so grinning hugely while on the road was no problem for me.  As for those that work in an office….you’re on your own…  LOL

Uncle Arthur, I never knew ye….

My mother has been making a scrapbook for my son for Christmas.  Oh, it’s fabulous. Captions, special paper, quotes, all manner of wonderfulness.

The mess in the dining room is spectacular.

The greatest fun, though, is all the pictures that are laying about.  Some just bring back memories. Others, I have never seen.

It was with a great thrill that I found a stack from my father’s collection. I found pictures of my grandpa, Reverend Lunsford Heath, and pictures I’d never seen of my grandmother, and all kinds of things.

But the best was a mystery man….ARTHUR.  arthurfun

I had to wait until mom and dad got up to find out who this mystery man was.

It’s UNCLE Arthur!

With glee, I showed mom the picture, and commented on the tounge in cheek “long face” comment…..she added, and they’re both made of wood…

Not the wooden leg! said I, with further glee!

When dad was small, and obedient, he asked a man what had happened to his leg.  The man responded, “If you promise not to ask any more questions, I will tell you!”

My father promised.

“Something bit it.”

What of Suffering?

I’m in a state of maniacal glee…not unlike a mad woman.
Have you ever been so infused with JOY that you begin laughing and crying at the same time, and felt like a
bubble bouncing along a stream?  I have been doing this all day.  Sometimes while reading, sometimes while
just driving along.  It begins bubbling up again, and I am like a crazy woman, driving down the road,
laughing crazily with tears running down my face.

I am experiencing the  book The Great Divorce by CS Lewis.  It is metaphorically named and takes
place in Heaven. It is based on a dream.  Yet, I read it and it seems so true…it resonates with me.

For a long, long time, I have had a feeling I could not quite put into words about the significance of suffering.

People have long asked why God allows people to suffer, and while there are several answers to this
question, one thing stands out in my mind, that is so hard to explain.  I felt, somehow, that on the other side, in eternity, it will seem as nothing.

When one’s friend has suffered a loss, or is suffering, (and lately it seems many have) my heart turns cowardly and can not, will not, brave answering the question. I simply express my pain at their pain, and do not suppose to suggest reasons we must suffer or any thoughts on the subject.

In The Great Divorce, I came upon this.  I want to share it with YOU.  I hope that this will entice you to
also read the book and that you too, will experience the same joy.  If you find that I have caused you to
yearn to read it too, and do not have the means, email me and I will try to provide you with a copy.

‘Son,’ he said, ‘ye cannot in your present state understand eternity: when Anodos looked through the door

of the Timeless he brought no message back.  But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good

and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective.  Not only this valley but all their earthly past will

have been Heaven to those who are saved.  Not only the twilight in that town, but all their life on Earth too,

will then be seen by the damned to have been Hell.  That is what mortals misunderstand.  They say of some

temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it.” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work

backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say, “Let me have but

this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past

and contaminate the pleasure of the sin.  Both processes begin even before death.  The good man’s past

begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad

man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness.  And that is why, at the end of

all things, when the sun reises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say “We

have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, “and the Lost, “We were always in Hell. ”  And both will

speak truly.’

Happy Birthday, Romeow

It r Romeow’s Birfday.

*teh donkee is all alone and tinks
she cannutt bee herd*

Is quiet, and

Her is thinkeeng abowt her Romeow.

Shhhh…u kin heer hurr fots if u lissen
wiff ur hart:

“Oh, Romeow
u is a star
u shine so brite, so brite
u is a lite.

And insite.
U sends mee wurds
u fink r nuffin speshull
an i sits an stares at dem
an dey vibrates wiff a magnetism

(sumtimes like wen i reeds mah Good Book
its kind ub like dat)

an u say
oh donkey wut a bootifull thing
an turn it into a lettur
dat i wunt to frame
u mek mee feel 5 an wunt to SING

U fly froo teh sky
wiff no feer
and I
has a hart full ub lub
an eyes full ub teers as I sings

u gibs ME wings!

an, oh! U meks such bootifull fings

why,
i fink i wud find dem at teh fantsy place
or sumplace furr ellebentee thousand dollars
butt dem is priceless.

an Romeow teh cat
Rest him soul
looks down an crais
wiff joy dat hee gotts too bee yur bebbeh

How prowd hee muss bee
Hee shows all him frens
an points wiff floofeh arm
Look, dat MAH hyoomun
an has a prowd
an dey nod sollumlee
wiff big eyes

sumtams i marvels how life can bee so byootifull,
an den u cums along and turns up teh shine.

Carol does it again…

The last few days I have been pouting.

Sulking.

Seething, too.

I have been a very naughty donkey.

Seems like every little thing has been @!$$ing me off. Just stupid little crap. So needless to say I have been in need of a spiritual buttkick.

And then I got the most wonderful advice from Carol. It came titled, “Advice from a Tennessee Mountain Man.”

Being a rather obnoxious donkey lately, I am surprised I read the Advice. But I did. And my mouth just kept dropping open farther and farther. It wasn’t just one or two items. It was a ton of them. I was just dumbfounded. I am going to print out the list and meditate on it…they need to sink in.

I was so impressed with the list I wanted to share it with you all, too. It contains some excellent advice everyone can benefit from.

Thank you, Carol.

(And thank YOU, Janey, for your ever-constant vigilance to keep me in line. *smile*)

Here it is:

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
Keep skunks and bankers and lawyers at a distance.
Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.
Meanness doesn’t just happen overnight.
Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
Do not corner something you know is meaner than you.
It doesn’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
You cannot unsay a cruel, or unkind word.
Every path has a few puddles.
When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
The best sermons are lived, not preached.
Most of the stuff people worry about is never gonna happenanyway.
Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
Remember silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older
and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
Don’t interfere with something that ain’t bothering you none.
Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever
have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every morning.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that
comes from bad judgment.
Letting the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier
than putting it back in.
If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence,
try ordering somebody else’s dog around.
Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.
Leave the rest up to God.

Ask and you shall receive….

I saw this a couple days ago and my heart just melted.

I immediately thought of my good ICHC friend Carol (idansdansdans) who is just going through medical hell every single day, and yet somehow, everyday, manages to send me scads of funny and inspiring and wonderful emails. We just kind of “feed” each other. What an appropriate picture. I just could not stop staring at it with the most tender feeling. So I sent it to her. And of course, she loved it. She’d love a colored paperclip if I made it for her-reminds me of my mom. What a loving heart.

But this morning I was still thinking about it. It wouldn’t leave my mind. It had just sort of wiggled its way into my mind and heart and would not leave. And then I started seeing some interesting things in it.

You know, this picture very much represents how I see our relationship with our Maker. As usual, this explanation will not become immediately obvious, so bear with me, LOL.

Everything belongs to Him. When they sacrificed part of their flock to show their gratitude for his gifts, they knew it belonged to him. (Going off on a tangent-this reminds me of the story of Cain and Abel’s gifts to God. I used to feel sorry for Cain and his rejected offer. I now I see it a little differently, I think. His heart was not only not in the giving, but he resented giving back WHAT WAS NEVER HIS FROM THE BEGINNING.)

I look at this picture and see this precious, sweet little kitty as us, the human race, and the hand is God’s. The little kitty believes this shiny expensive thingee is a “munnee” and he is going to “buy” his friend whom he loves some sustenance and happy. He is asking for help for his little friend. Oh, little kitty, you do not need a shiny munnee. Your Master will gladly give your friend a cheezburger!!

The more you reflect on this, the more things come to mind…

Of course, we, the watcher, “know” the truth…the hand belongs to the master of the house, and he owns all in it, including this shiny munnee. How endearing is this act…this naive innocent kitty believes he is buying the gift for his friend.

We ask our Maker for many things and sometimes we try to “bargain”, too, as though we have some control or power. He owns all things, and has all the power. We need only ask with a grateful heart.

/ Thank you, “Dee5”, for this wonderful caption.