Pretty much every day I ponder the meaning of life. It’s what I do.  Why are we here?  Why is here pretty much hell for so many people? If we’re going to be here, what should we be doing and why do we have to bother with it?  And, I get answers.  Usually when they come, they’ll come in clusters, from at least two sources.  It’s this confirmation that signals me they are being sent to me, not me just making them up.

I am reading George Anderson’s Life Between Heaven and Earth right now.  It’s a series of people’s life stories coupled to medium readings they have had with George and the life lessons that have come from the souls who reveal some of what they know now that they are on the other side.  I wrote about doors a couple of days ago, how our earthly lives begin by walking in the door of birth and end by walking out the door of death, but meanwhile, we are going through a series of doors in between- that came from this book. Another common theme in the book is George keeps referring to this place, Earth(school), as Purgatory or as a proving ground.    The spirits tell us this as well. We are here to learn, to grow, to be tested. This isn’t supposed to be a  rose garden. This is supposed to be tough. For most of us it is tough.  If it isn’t for you, just wait a while.

So, today as I’m walking, I decide to listen to the latest Swedenborg podcast.  It’s on conscience.  According to Swedenborg one of the primary reasons we are here is to develop our conscience. Conscience, according to Swedenborg, isn’t simply knowing right from wrong, it’s developing a love for what is right- for truth and goodness.  Maybe a better word would be character.  There is a new age teaching that we have this Higher Soul that is fully developed conscience-wise and that we can tap into that to make ourselves better people.  The idea is to make our human side line up with our Higher Soul which is already evolved.If we did have this more evolved Higher Self, why is our human self so undeveloped?  Swedenborg looks at it a bit differently. He’s probably call that Higher Soul our inner self. And, it’s not fully developed. We comes here to develop it. We come here to determine the shape of our soul.   What we do here, what we love here, what we learn to cherish here- that’s what determines what we are like in the afterlife. That is what determines our place in the hereafter.

There was a time when I was a Christian that, like most Christians, I was hyper-focused on salvation. Salvation, for me, meant an escape from Hell. That was it. That was my only concern. I remember telling my counselor that all I wanted was to get into Heaven, just scrape by. I didn’t care about a mansion or what happened after I got there.  Just leave me alone in a little corner by myself. Anything other than Hell was good enough for me.  That is the result of thinking of myself as not being worthy and never able to make myself worthy.  I was told my righteousness was “as filthy rags”. So, why even bother, if that’s what you’re told?  Now I realize that I am supposed to work on myself. I am supposed to choose right over and over again, making myself a better person until it becomes a habit, becomes ingrained into my very nature and becomes what I love.

The last couple of years have been a major challenge for me.  Not only has Shayna’s passing sent me for a loop, I’ve been facing a challenge with our business that seems completely intractable.  I started a project a year ago next month, that should have taken a few weeks.  The company I’ve employed to do the work has let me down time and time again. These delays have cost me tens of thousands of dollars and have put my livelihood at risk.  Four months ago I was told the project would be finished in a matter of a couple of weeks. A month ago, I thought it would be a few days.  I want to scream every curse word I know at these people.  I want to not pay them for the work.  I want to fire them and start all over. I want to take them to court and sue them.  I am so angry and frightened that I cannot even express it.  Kayla wants to go to Spain this summer with school. I can’t commit to paying for that until I know how this is going to turn out.  Tywana and I want to go to Arizona this September and next April.  I can’t commit to that until I know how this is going to turn out.  I’ve been sitting in this valley a long time and the scenery is getting pretty boring. I’m ready for a change.  And, every day, all day, I grind, trying to figure out what to do next to make it change.  If I can’t get this done and it doesn’t work out, I might be looking for a job for the first time in nearly 20 years and I really, really do not want to do that.

Then, I read George Anderson. I listen to Swedenborg.  I sit in meditation and leave this world of trouble, even if temporarily and only in my mind.  I pull back and I look at the big picture. This life isn’t about the acquisition of things. It’s not even about comfort.  It’s about creating the character I will have on the other side.  I look at all of this crap that’s been piled on me and I think of it as a character building exercise. It’s an obstacle on the obstacle course. This life is about assembling that character.

This morning I listen to a Podcast by a friend of mine.  Her subject- what will follow Christianity? The demise of Christianity has been predicted by many. And  trends don’t bode well for it.  Church attendance is on the decline.  Rightfully so, IMO. Most churches teach not only things that aren’t useful, they are spreading poison.  Lies about the nature of God, this life, the afterlife, the Bible, etc. etc.  They tell people they are worthless miserable sinners that God detested so much He had to kill Himself.  And, they tell you the only way you can be sure to appease this god (small g) is to follow their rules.  Fortunately, there are only about 30,000-40,000 Christian denominations to choose from, so your chances of getting it right are pretty good </sarcasm>.

After many years of wrestling with my Christianity, I finally decided about two years ago to give up on trying to stretch Christianity fit what I had become. To say I’m a Christian, but I don’t believe in Eternal Conscious Torment, the inerrancy of the Bible, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, etc. etc. because untenable.  I was studying Buddhism, Taoism, meditation, reading about NDEs, talking to mediums, studying what leading edge science is telling us about the afterlife and, maybe more importantly, the nature of this universe.  I realized that I had formed my own “faith”, my own “religion” and it didn’t fit into any one else’s box.  I went to a non-denominational church, attended a UCC church for quite a while, back to non-denominational, and now I’m at a Unity church. But, I’m not tied to any of those dogmas. I’ve studied Buddhism and I practice some of it, but I’m not a Buddhist.

When I attended the Suzanne Giesemann’s “Back To Your Center” conference a month ago I realized that Suzanne and others are teaching a new kind of spirituality.  It’s a spirituality not based on faith, but based on evidence.  It doesn’t require any particular practices or set of beliefs. And, the greatest commandment is what Jesus said it was- Love.  If Christians acted like Jesus and taught what Jesus taught, Christianity would be a whole ‘nother thing. But, they don’t act like Him and they don’t teach what He taught. I think the word “Christian” is damaged beyond repair.

I realized I am a Brianist.  I practice Brianism. It’s an ever-evolving religion that has no set practices, rituals or dogmas.  It’s customized to fit me and only me.  Tywana and I have very similar spirituality, even more so since the passing of Shayna, but we are not exactly alike. And, that’s the way it should be.  When I was a Christian, I attempted to proselytize.  I don’t do that anymore. I’m not seeking to make converts, other than to encourage each and every person I meet to be the best version of themselves they can be and to realize they are loved more than they can possibly imagine and nothing can keep them separate from the love of God/Spirit/Universe because they are that.

Doors have been on my mind.  This week I started a book by George Anderson. In the opening of the book, he mentions how life is like a series of doors or portals. We come into life through the portal of birth. We exit through the portal of death. In between, we are a met by a series of doors through which come people, influences from spirit, opportunities, challenges, etc. We are constantly moving from door to door as these portals align and bring us into contact with the experiences that make up our lives.

Sometimes, we feel like we are stuck in the hallway. There is that time when we’ve exited one door and another hasn’t opened. It’s hell in the hallway. I feel like I’ve been stuck in the hallway way too long. I keep reminding myself it’s not forever, even though it feels that way too often.

So, today on my walk, I look over to my left as I’m passing a neighbor’s driveway and I see this. A “free door”, just sitting there for the taking.

So, today I am talking to a friend of mine who checks in on me periodically.  He asks me how I’m doing and I’m faced with that dilemma again. Do I give the quick “I’m doing OK.” answer or do I tell the truth?  The truth I’m speaking of is the one that has got to be wearing thin on everyone around me, because it’s sure wearing thin on me.

I give a quick answer, then switch the subject to his family.  He has two boys in their early teens. They are on spring break and a family trip. I’m envious of those days.  I tell him, like people used to tell me, to enjoy every moment of that time. Soak it up.  Cherish it. There it is again.  Time.  Time is on my mind all of the time now.  There were years of my life when I wished my life away.   The time could not go fast enough.  Then, there were the years where I would listen to Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle” and wish I could literally package those years up and keep them with me forever. I’m back in the days when time cannot go fast enough again.  I’ve made my memories. I can’t make any more with Shayna.  I’m ready for this time to be over.

Facebook pops up memories from this day in history.  The two year anniversary of Shayna’s passing is coming up in three months.  Just like when you have a baby, I started measuring the time in days, then it was weeks, then months.  Now, I have to think about how many months it’s been before I can answer.  For the last couple of months it’s been “just short of two years”.  I’ve begun measuring the time in years.  Memories of Shayna are especially precious because there will be no more made.  Today, I look at one that is from two years ago.  It was a visit Shayna and I made to Taco Bell, just the two of us.  Tywana wouldn’t eat there.  Kayla was in college.  Shayna was enjoying her turn at being the only child for a few years. I remember the day well. I remember Shayna being thrilled with the Dorito flavored taco shell.  We were both so full of joy. I stare at the picture and cannot not wrap my mind around the fact that was “just” two years ago.  Something must be wrong. Surely that was three years ago.  No.  It was just two years ago and neither of us had any idea we only had a few weeks left together here.

Objectively, time always passes at the same rate, but subjectively, it can distort tremendously. Twenty minutes sitting in meditation can feel like a very long time on some days.  It passes quickly on others.  Twenty minutes when I wake up early in the morning and don’t want to get up to face the day, when I’m begging the clock to just stop moving and let me stay here where it’s safe and dark and warm, goes by in the blink of an eye.

When Shayna passed, I could not imagine making it two years.  I could not imagine making it two weeks. I didn’t want to.  People talked of healing.  I didn’t want healing. Healing seemed too much like forgetting.  I just wanted to be with her- NOW.  Frankly, healing still seems like forgetting. I’m surrounded by parents going through grief now.  I’m in an organization called Helping Parents Heal. I see parents who seem to have healed or at least are healing. I can’t say if or when I will ever heal. The memories are all packed away in the bottle.  I wish I had a fast forward button.

Today I got into a pretty heated exchange with a handful of my liberal/progressive friends on Facebook.  I posted one of my favorite Bible scriptures- Ezekiel 16:49 which clearly states the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but arrogance, gluttony and lack of concern for the poor.  One would think my liberal brothers and sisters would have been cheering this one.  Instead, a handful took it as an opportunity to attack the Bible in particular, scripture in general, Christianity in particular and scripture in general.  It was a full out assault by some of them.

As a former Christian, I can understand the criticisms of Christianity and the Bible because I’ve felt and voiced all of them myself.  The Bible is far from perfect and has been used as a tool to promote misogyny, sexism, racism, slavery and genocide.  Need I go on?  Christianity has been the dominant religion in the West for close to 2,000 years and is responsible for many, many deaths and a lot of heartache. I get that. I get it when someone says that neither is for them, ever again.  Fine.  No problem.

What I have a problem with is when my liberal/progressive brothers and sisters became as judgmental as the most fundamentalist Christians.  My friends were comparing Christianity to an abusive marriage.  One went so far as to say that an addict that escapes drug addiction by finding faith in religion has simply traded one addiction for another- implying that both are equally harmful  One said (I’m paraphrasing) that good behavior brought on by compulsion is not good behavior at all and he gives no credit for it.  I wonder if he’d be surprised to find out the Bible and Christianity actually agree with him.  But, he presumed or concluded that all good behavior done by Christians is done out of a fear of hell.  He has completely neglected the fact that a true understanding of Christianity leads to good deeds done out of gratitude for what God has already done for us and the recognition that our fellow man is our brother, made in the image of our Father.  When I discovered Christian Universalism many years ago and began hanging with people who had new found freedom offered by the understanding they were not compelled to believe anything or to go to church  many of them started berating me for still going to church.  They wanted to use their freedom to tell me what I could not or should not do

My friends yesterday argued that good people would be good people with or without religion.  This is interesting, since I had earlier made the argument that racists and homophobes would be racists and homophobes with or without scripture.  Neither of us can prove our point. But, I can say I have known many, deeply religious Christians who are exemplary  human beings, including both of my parents.  Religion has bound them in some areas.  Some things from their former teachings they have had to overcome.  But, it has also inspired them to go beyond what most human beings ever achieve in terms of compassion.

As a middle way kind of person, I see both sides of this argument.  I would never (again) tell anyone he has to be a Christian or go to church.  People certainly can be amazing human beings without a religion or a religious community.  Religion has been too abused in some people’s eyes for them to ever go back to it. I don’t advocate for any particular religion, anymore. I think everyone has to find his own unique path.  I do attend a church.  I’m not a member. I do have a  community of people I gather with on a regular basis both in that church and in other groups.  They are people of like minds, beliefs and goals. We don’t have a formal religion. I practice Brianism.  It’s my own blend.  But, to deny the positive impact of Christianity and even the Bible on Western civilization I think is not only wrong, it’s ineffective. There are still many, many people who are in churches, who take the Bible seriously if not literally.  And, you are never going to reach those people from a position of putting their faith and their scriptures down.  Better to understand their scriptures and teach them what they really say.  Better to understand their faith and teach them what Jesus really taught.  And, it’s also more loving to do so.

Ezekiel 16:49- “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

This was written for the Jews over 2,000 years ago in a land and a time far removed from America in 2017. But, the words are just as true today as they were then.  Substitute the name “America” for “Sodom” and it could have been written yesterday. This is the power of scripture.  Throwing out the baby with the bathwater is not for me. Many parts of the Bible and Christianity still resonate deeply with me.

This is just the family portion of Shayna’s Shining Stars.  The total team was 56.

As my brother-in-law Rod pointed out last night, we have a new family tradition.  I guess if you do something two years in a  row that makes it a tradition.  Right?   Shayna’Shining Star- the team that participates in the Shamrock Shuffle 5K Family Walk to benefit Shayna’s scholarship fund, has put our second year in the books.

Year two kicked off Friday night with a pasta party for about twenty of the team’s fifty five participants.  Tywana and I made industrial sized portions of baked tomato/beef spaghetti and baked chicken spaghetti.  We had salads and garlic bread, beer and wine.  And, of course, the obligatory chewy bars for dessert.  We stayed up way too late with about fifteen family members, talking into the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday morning rolled around early.  It was, as is tradition for the Shamrock Shuffle, overcast, cold and breezy. When I went out for my two mile warm up walk, it had just stopped raining.  We rounded everyone up and headed over to the race.  We did the race in several groups, with a few of us running or walking on our on trying to achieve personal goals in time.  We finished in a range of 26 to 59 minutes as range from a six year old, up through a couple of college and high school athletes to our soon to be 65 year old eldest participant. My personal goal was under 36 minutes for the 5K, and I finished in 33.

After the race, we had a goetta slider, a couple of us brave souls had a Yuengling (at 11 AM and about 44º.  Then, twenty of us headed back to the house for showers and refueling with the leftover pasta.  We watched a little of the NCAA Tournament and had fun for several hours while waiting to head down to northern Kentucky to watch my freshman nephew play in a home tennis match for his college.

My sister-in-law’s boys are 19, 20 and 21 years old. The younger two attend a very small college in western Pennsylvania.  Coincidentally, my brother-in-law’s son plays for a very small college in northern Kentucky.  They play each other once a year and it was on this weekend that the whole family was in town. So, we had to go to the match. We went and took over the dining room of the fitness center where Thomas More plays its home matches and cheered our 6′5″ freshman nephew who looks like he should be playing football, to a crushing defeat of his opponent. The dining room overlooks the courts where Wesley was playing, so it was like having our private box to view his match.

After the tennis match and another meal, we had to make a stop at Jungle Jim’s.  Twelve of us piled into three cars and headed north back into Ohio. It was the first trip for Tywana’s brother, sister-in-law and their son.   But, we made a quick two hour swing through the grocery store.

Nine of us then headed back to our house, after stopping by White Castle for a case of sliders.  Shell’s three boys will claim they are starving if they don’t eat every two hours. So, we had to feed them a couple of more times before going to bed.  They are the brothers that Kayla and Shayna never had and Kayla and Shayna are the sisters they never had.  Two of them are just older than Kayla and one just younger. They were/are extremely protective of their girl cousins and just great, great young men who have overcome a pretty rough start to become boys you really want to be around.  They have honored Shayna in many ways before and since her passing, even getting their college teammates who never met Shayna to wear bands in her honor. Nicholas, the oldest, just got another tattoo for Shayna that says “Until I See You Again”.

The kids headed to the basement and we stayed up as long as we could make it (1 AM) talking. Shell and Rod are Mormon.  So, as far as religion goes, we are pretty far apart. But, Mormons have a very active and detailed belief in the afterlife as well as pre-existence.  We spent the remainder of the evening watching Suzanne Giesemann’s Messages of Hope video and viewing the reading she recently did for us.

All throughout the day, Shayna’s presence was strong with us. We laughed a lot and cried some.  We felt her spirit, but we missed her physical presence, her wit. I stole away several times to have a talk with her and would wonder how much others were missing her too.  In spite of having a blast in her honor, I know we all had those moments.

Everybody’s family is at least a little odd.  Our is no exception. But, I love Tywana’s brothers and sisters like my own and their children like my own, as well. Tywana’s brothers and sisters didn’t have any girls. We didn’t have any boys. So, Shayna and Kayla have been their sisters and they have been Kayla and Shayna’s brothers.  We have grown closer and closer over the years. I think we are cherishing these moments more than ever because we appreciate the limited supply.  The boys are now men. The girls are women. Two of my brother’s kids could make it because their car wouldn’t start.  Another was on a field trip to Peru.  Getting everyone together is nearly impossible anymore.  So, when we do get together, we make sure to make the most of every moment.

Finally, we were exhausted.  Around 1, we turned in.  I could still feel the energy from all of the people in the house. The house was full, as it should be. I heard people getting ready for bed, talking- still laughing.  As I lay there with my eyes closed waiting for sleep to come, I felt this strange, unfamiliar feeling.  It took me a while to put a word to it.  I felt happy.

Today’s ear worm is “I Need You” by Foreigner.  I woke up with this song echoing around in my head.  I sit here bleary eyed typing this early in on St. Patrick’s Day.  Yesterday was a rough day. I woke up and really, really did not want to get up and face the world, as opposed to my usual merely really not wanting to pull the covers back and leave the warm dark escape from this world that my bed gives me. Every day I pray two conflicting prayers. They are not planned. They are spontaneous utterances that take different forms, and I pray them various times during the day. One is to give me the strength to make it through the day.The other is to take me with you, get me out of here.  I leave it up the universe to decide which one is answered.  So far, 632 times it’s been the former that’s been answered.  So, here I am.

Kayla came home last night. When she’s here, we typically stay up late enjoying every possible minute with her..  So, I didn’t get to bed until 1 AM.   I could not get to sleep, which is strange for me. I cannot sleep in no matter what time I go to bed and today’s going to be full of activity getting ready for company coming in tonight.

Tomorrow is the day of the Shamrock Shuffle a charity race in the neighborhood. This will be the second year we’ve done it as a team to raise money for Shayna’s scholarship fund.  We have fifty five people racing in Shayna’s name tomorrow. That is an amazing number. Eighteen family members will be here at our house tonight and tomorrow.  I think it’s a big deal to Shayna. It’s big enough that she mentioned a walk/run in her name in my medium reading with Alyson Gannon. This was several months before the first one we did in her name.  It was before we had even planned it. I had no idea what Alyson was talking about. i thought it was the fact that I was doing so much walking after Shayna passed. After we did the first race, a year ago, it dawned on me what Shayna was talking about.   Maybe Shayna is particularly close to me right now.  Ironically, feeling waves of grief is often triggered by our loved ones being close.  It was amazingly strong yesterday morning. This is a big family event.  I seem to be feeling her even more than usual.

I was told by Susanne Wilson that I would be able to connect with Shayna someday. Susanne also told me that Shayna is one of my guides.  I’ve been wondering why I can’t connect with my guides the way some people are able to. Maybe it’s because I’m already connected to Shayna and she is my guide. I think the connection is there and that I simply need to believe in it.  In fact, that is what Shayna keeps telling me.  She’s telling me that she is right here talking to me.  I just need to trust it. She has also told me that she has been with me all of my life, including before she was born.  I don’t know if that makes any sense or not, but I feel it’s true.

Last night, as we were getting ready for bed, Kayla and Tywana were discussing future plans.  Are we going to move to Arizona, Colorado, Florida?  Where will Kayla be? Will we fly her to where we are living should she be in grad school in another state?  Future plans. Distant future. I still can’t go there. I can barely plan tomorrow.  I do feel that a shift is about to happen. I don’t know what it is and I’m too superstitious to hope for too much.  Things are lining up though.  We’ll see where it goes.

So, where does “I Need You” fit into all of this? I’m not in this alone. I need my guide/guides to make it through this. I’m relying on them to show me the way and to give me the strength to follow the path I must take. Right now I’m tired.  I can’t do this on my own.

This is my world, this is my arena
The TV told me something different I didn’t believe it
I stand here in front of you today all because of an idea
I could be who I wanted if I could see my potential
And I know that one day I’mma be him
Put the gloves on, sparring with my ego
Everyone’s greatest obstacle, I beat ‘em
Celebrate that achievement
Got some attachments, some baggage I’m actually working on leaving
See, I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I study art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot
I will not be a statistic
Just let me be- Mackelmore- 10,000 Hours

10,000 hours is a principle attributed to pop psychology writer Malcolm Gladwell. The principle is that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world class in any field.  The above lyrics are from a song 10,000 hours, by Macklemore.  People think he’s an overnight sensation. This song reminds us he’s not. He put in a lot of work.

The past couple of weeks, due to a series of events, I’ve had the opportunity to observe someone who is world class at her craft. I went to a two day workshop put on by Suzanne Giesemann. Suzanne rose to the top levels in the military, a commander who became Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that role, she traveled the world and met with world leaders. Then, Suzanne became a published author. Then, Suzanne became a world class medium. I believe that is what she is best known for now, but from what I have observed, Suzanne is actually more of a spiritual teacher who happens to be able to talk to dead people.

What I’ve observed about Suzanne is she looks for the lesson in everything. And, by everything, I mean every interaction she has throughout her day with others and her own reactions to those. She has taken lessons from something as mundane as the interaction at a traffic circle, a chance meeting with people in the lobby of a hotel (Tywana and me), and her own cravings for chocolate.  Suzanne has mastered the art of mindfulness and it’s what has led to her incredible growth in her field.   I’ve observed Suzanne when she’s speaking in front of a group and one-on-one as she carefully chooses each word she puts out into the universe for maximum impact and minimum damage.

When we spot masters, we tend to think they were born with a gift.  When I was growing up in church, we used the words gifts and talents interchangeably. And, they are basically synonymous. But, there is a slight difference in connotation. We tend to look at people like LeBron and Tiger Woods and Lindsey Stirling (my latest musical obsession) with wonder and awe at what they were given (gift). What we often overlook is that they weren’t given that level of skill. They were given the potential (talent).  It’s like the difference between intelligence and knowledge.  Intelligence is given.  Knowledge is earned.  They put in their time. They honed their skills.  They practice, practice, practice.  We call them “overnight sensations” and are envious at how lucky they are. Macklemore wasn’t born rapping the way he does.  He put in 10,000 hours to get to the level he has risen to. To dismiss the importance of their work is to do them a disservice

Back in the day, I played basketball with a guy named Zen Piotrowski. Zen wasn’t a great basketball player. Zen was actually worse than I was, and I was never very good. But, Zen had this confidence that, if he put in the hours, he could be just as good as Larry Bird.  We all laughed at Zen because we knew he’d never be a Larry Bird.  However, Zen knew something that the rest of us didn’t realize at the time. Zen, or any of us, could have improved tremendously if we put in the kind of work that Larry Bird had to put in to get to the level he was at.  Larry Bird wasn’t born Larry Bird- the Boston Celtic

Finally, I think about the life of Jesus, Master of Masters.  Jesus. we think. was born Jesus. But, Jesus put in the work. We don’t hear much about his meditation and his prayer life, but we hear a little.  40 days in the desert fasting. Always sneaking away for prayer time.  Praying in the Garden until he sweat blood.  Jesus was tempted the way we are.  Jesus was born with the potential, but he was not born with the ability. That, he had to earn through hard work, just the way we do.

I’ll never be a Suzanne Giesemann. I don’t have the talent in the arena of mediumship.   I do think we all have the talent in the area of mindfulness. We can all make ourselves into a master of our own lives, if we are willing to put in the work, to see the lessons in everything, no matter how small it may seem, to observe our reactions, to root out our fears and give them up, to continue to fine tune ourselves into the best version of who we can possibly be.  10,000 hours- it’s not really all that much time.

Yesterday I wrote about getting a hug in heaven. It was just off the top of my head in reply to a question someone asked in a group that I’m in. As I was coming awake this morning, the idea percolated to the surface again.  I had a reading with a medium recently where she said that Shayna said she helps me with my writing and that I am “not that good”.  I’m sure both things are true. I usually get my inspiration between 4-7 AM.  This morning, I was inspired to rewrite what I wrote yesterday.

In some of the NDE groups I hang out in, there is a question that keeps coming up due to “new age” teachings that on the other side, we are simply light beings. We have no physical bodies. We can’t touch. Some even say we are pretty much devoid of emotion.  I guess they think we just float around all day just “being”, according to this model.  I’m not buying it.

A self described touch/feely person asked about being able to get a hug in heaven.  She’s hesitant about going to heaven because she’s going to miss out on that physical contact. She likes hugging her kids. Someone even suggested one of the reasons we incarnate into this world is so we can experience physical sensations.  So, over there, we are missing something because we can’t experience the physical. So, we have to pack up and move here to this world of pain and lack to experience the physical sensations we miss there?  That makes no sense to me.  This place is reflection of a greater reality (physicists tell us this is like a hologram, a projection).  Swedenborg says what we experience here are “correspondences”, reflections or analogies of what the spiritual world is like. So, why would we expect the real real to be less real than this?

Why do we want hugs? What we want to feel is the love.  In this realm we experience love through words, through glances and through touch.  We gaze at each other.  We hug.  We kiss.  We have sex. We equate sex with love so much that we call having sex “making love”.

Here, we can’t experience love directly.  So, you glance at me.  My eyes pick up the photons being reflected off of your eyes which stimulate nerve cells.  My brain senses you are looking at me and interpret that glance. You speak to me. Your vocal cords create sound waves which strike my ear drums which causes a fluid to vibrate which creates an electrical impulse which my brain hears as words a and interprets as ideas which I take as love.  You hug me, which causes nerve cells in my skin to fire and send impulses to my brain and I feel your touch. We get as close as we can, putting our bodies together.  My 60 pound dog Zoe can never be close enough to me. She squirms on my lap, puts her face in my face, looks into my eyes. I swear that dog tries to climb inside of me.

With a special few people, we “make love”.  For most of us this is confined to one person for the bulk of our lives, if not all of our lives. We have special sensors for this function only. We keep them hidden from the rest of the world, covered by clothing.  We don’t even show them to strangers. We can’t make love with anyone else no matter how close we feel to them. And, as we age, for many of us, we don’t make love nearly enough and our bodies make it difficult to do it at all.  When we do make love though, we experience a physical sensation like no other- an orgasm.  This is the ultimate physical merging of two people here on Earth.

All of these things are expressions of love, but they’re not the love itself, which we cannot feel directly. They are approximations. They are the best we can do. We feel love and we express it the best way we can, through these intermediary senses, hoping it gets through to the other person.

Why would we think we are going to miss the firing of these neurons in the afterlife?  Are we going to lack a way of expressing and feeling love? Is there no equivalent to a hug, a kiss or an orgasm? I would expect we will experience a more direct feeling of love, a more intense experience. I don’t think we’ll sit there looking at each other wishing we could hug and finally resigning ourselves to the fact that we have to come back here to do it. I think the feeling of love there will be one that we can’t even imagine, because now all we have ever known is being trapped in these meatsuits.  I’m not worried about missing out on any physical sensation in the afterlife- chocolate, whiskey, or even making love. I think there, when we want to make that love connection, we will and we will have a soulgasm that will make everything here pale in comparison.