Effects

Dear Diary,

This morning I woke up in my little log cabin in Maine in plenty of time for the quick flight home. The place was clean and tidy, all ready to receive us on our return in a few weeks. I had gone to bed hoping to wake up early enough for my traditional hike and prayer time, but this morning the lake called me first. The one thing I still needed to do was to bring my rowboat out of the water and place it face down on the dock so it would not fill with rain and falling leaves while I was gone. Standing on the dock I looked around and was immediately struck by the beauty of my surroundings and I wanted to stay there. It was so early that a foggy mist hovered over the entire lake which was particularly still and glassy. This morning the lake reflected the soft grayish white sky.

I rushed back into the cabin to grab my oars, my Bible, eyeglasses, and a towel to sit on. When I retuned to the dock I knew that I had to seize the moment because lake conditions change fast. Instead of sitting on the dock and reading first, I descended into the rowboat and hooked up the oars to set out to sea. Me and my boat were the only ones on the lake that early, unless you want me to count the loon or two that surfaced a little later.

I rowed out and stopped to enjoy the view of the hemlock trees and mountains surrounding us. On my lake there are no houses in sight from the center, only trees and mountains. The view was peaceful and beautiful, perfect for praying. I soon thought instead of facing west I should face east to where God and the sun come from lest I have my back to Them. On this morning unless I already knew where east was, it would have been hard to tell as the sky was so thick with clouds. Staring, I finally saw a slightly brighter area in the sky that revealed the rising sun, so even though the view in that direction, closer to shore and without mountains was less beautiful, it was in that direction I said my prayers.

First phase, glorify God, then thank Him.

As I recited my prayers my mind wandered to what I was doing. I was speaking to an invisible God. I was telling Him how much I love Him and thanking Him for all of the gifts I could called to my mind at that moment. In the undercurrent of my prayer I thought about how strange it seemed that I was talking to the air. I couldn't see Him.

Since my trip to the Holy Land several months ago, and especially after having just finished James Martin, SJ's book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage, about his trip Holy Land which evoked so many shared memories, I have become aware of the humanity of Jesus more than ever before in my Christian life. I was so used to worshipping an invisible, divine Jesus, that confronting the reality of His humanity seemed at first foreign and inappropriate until I adjusted my perception of the dual nature of God as never before.

But, here I was shifting back again to worshipping a purely invisible divine God and now that seemed strange out there in the middle of my lake all alone on a foggy still morning.

'But He is not altogether invisible,' I argued with myself. I see Him with my heart in the effects of His magnificent being. Hearing myself list all that I was grateful for, most especially as I sat in the boat where two weeks to the day earlier I rescued my young grandchildren from their capsized canoe, I was particularly grateful for all that God did to prevent what easily could have been a traumatic disaster. Thank God that my lake did not swallow the young lives of my beloved babies.

It is not often possible to sense the presence of an invisible living God. So, I need to set aside my senses and look at the obvious effects of His Being. Then, I know for certain, that Someone is there listening to my prayers, and wishing I would stop allowing my mind to wander.

Of course this is not new. In fact it is very very old, but today for me it was expressed in what felt like a two way conversation between the invisible God and me. 'I can't see You, but I know you are there.'

With love,
Evangeline

Saint Want

 

 

There was a time when a great Want filled my aching soul. There were bills to pay like demons threatening to take the breath from my lungs. I begged for rest and found none, only brief naps abruptly disturbed by a long hard stick pushing me to move on. When ten times a landlord banished us in winter I cried rather than in peace become like Jesus who said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.

Tears drenched my pillow, but Want took my hand and lead me to the Lord. We went through the Red Sea and across the wilderness. Want and I visited David when He was anointed by Samuel to be king many years before he was appointed by the people. David gave me hope and promise. As did the Shunemite woman to whom the Lord granted a son, who died, and whose life was restored even as Jesus restored the life of the widow’s only son.

Saint Want was a cruel soul mate who caused pain and suffering that could only be soothed by hope. Yet Saint Want showed me that God was alive and near. Chrysostom wrote that in the deepest darkness the light of God shines brightest. God always stood by me in times of disappointment and sorrow, not to relieve me, just to be with me so that in suffering I never despaired.

After a nine month battle with demons we landed on a place I named God’s Green Acre, a big place of rolling fields and streams. I rejoiced in the Lord’s ability to guide me through the valley of the shadow of death. I pitched an orange tent of prayer there in which I held long meetings with my Lord and King. There was much work to do to tend the garden of the Lord. Mowing and weeding, bushhogging too. The harder the work, the dirtier and sweatier I became, the happier I was to be creating a place where God’s children (and mine) could come to enter tent-like cells in which they could commune with the One who lead Israel through the wilderness.

In the summer my naked toddlers splashed in pools of clear water and we laughed and sang out loud. On a day that I crossed the larger stream to the wildest part of this property I looked up to see a tree filled with grapes. How could this be I thought; grapes don’t grow on trees! But they did on God’s Green Acre because an old thick grape vine had climbed a scruffy birch tree and produced a thousand grapes.  I was humbled to think how human beings resemble the grape with its myriad of destinies, that may become even as lofty as the Blood of Christ. I planned someday to build a Chapel of the Transfiguration beside the grape tree.

Soon after an officer of the law arrived with a long hard stick to force us off God’s Green Acre. Being early with child I was too ill to fight even though every ounce of my being screamed in anguish.

Oh King David how keenly I feel the pain of your exile in Ziglag! In the years that followed our departure  I returned to God’s Green Acre often to cry and pray and to remember the days of blissful toil.

Echoes of Hebrews ran through my mind, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” 

And …

 “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”  

For the first ten or so years I refused to believe that I would not return someday to fulfill the plan of creating a place of refuge and communion with God.

Now twenty-five years have passed since my exile from God’s Green Acre. Last week I found myself driving by, so I stopped. I couldn’t remember when I had last visited the place; maybe it has been six months or more.  I found there a most desolate place.  The rickety barn where I once stored toys and tools had finally collapsed and lay in a pile. The trees were wild and with fallen limbs strewn about. Even the old apple tree that fed my family so well with its abundance of fruit had disappeared.

Two ‘For Sale’ signs from two different companies were planted at the entrance. Even though, by God’s grace I may now have the means to purchase God's Green Acre there is no room in my full life to make real that old vision.

The sight of desolation causes me to stop to think of the many ways my faith has been rewarded, of how it shouldn’t matter how I serve God, but only that I do in any way I can. I am grateful to Saint Want for the journey and the lesson. I hope someone will buy that land and make it their home to love it again. I hope those people will worship Christ there. On the day that the land is sold and the home is built and filled with laughing singing children again, I think I shall pay one last visit, and bring that young family a basket of fruit and tell them that they purchased holy ground.

Driving Me Happy

I heard they are called watershed moments when something big happens that catapults us to a new plateau of life.  On the practical level it could be a new job or a wedding or childbirth, but those watershed moments can also happen with revelations. One evening when I was in college in Baltimore as I sat in my little nanny-apartment in the Fleisher house, such a moment happened that changed me forever after.

That was when I first met the many me’s. I don’t know if it was by the Holy Spirit or my guardian angel, but I suddenly realized, that I harbored my very own internal enemy. In those days and for years before, for one reason or another I was unhappy more often than I was happy. It suddenly occurred to me that the root cause was an internal enemy, so at that moment I vowed to recognize the enemy of me and pin it down, strangle it or do whatever I could to keep me from making me miserable. That was the day I won my first victory over my internal enemy. Identify, aim, fire. Splat.

After that, when I was very unhappy I would map myself out on a piece of paper, positioning points in quadrants surrounding the core of me all the positive and negative influences on the state of my soul. This visual map made it easier to site the internal enemy, and the external enemies. I could then determine what I could control and what I couldn’t control. Most of all, I was able to control my attitude. I made an effort to receive the peace that Christ always offers, by trusting God, the Father, as He did.

That’s how I learned to drive myself happy.

Being a disciple-in-training takes perspective. It takes the ability to master emotions, attitudes, and even diet. Fasting is an excellent exercise to build spiritual muscle mass. When we tell our body what it can eat, e.g. vegan-for-a day, then we are practicing sitting in the driver’s seat of self. God likes that and sometimes rewards us for such fasts, not to mention the tremendous privilege of receiving communion. Whether or not your church requires fasting before communion, try it and see how much more powerful the eucharistic experience can be!

Learn ways to place your mind and body in submission. This way you free-up your heart to be a true disciple (student) of Christ.

Peace, joy, love,

Evangeline

Crazy Busy

Dear Journal,

I have to be honest, this past week I had to concentrate harder than ever to keep all my balls twirling in the air, and I dropped you. The hours usually spent every day writing to you, were given over to mercantilism instead because the job demanded them. Will you forgive me?

Sparks of light drifted by during the week and I tried to catch them to share with you. For example, on Wednesday I heard that Lily was finally born and that Anthony and Andy died after years of suffering. What a thing to hear of so much vertical traffic in one day. I could almost see with my heart’s eye people coming and going and how spectacular it is. But I didn’t have time to develop the vision.

I am very happy that Lily is here to see and to hug. I know her mom and dad are even happier. Birth day joy is truly a highlight of life on this old earth. Nothing can compare to the exhilaration that a baby brings, a new person with so much potential illuminates the world around her. May Lily be blessed with a good long wholesome and holy life, and may she bless her parents too. My great aunt, Anastasia, used to say that each child brings to the family a special fortune. I sense that Lily has great gifts in store for her family.

With more time I might have delved into a story about Anthony who was a brilliant boy and man who brought his family tremendous joy and pride. He was an athlete and an engineer, a son and a husband and a brother until multiple sclerosis rendered him catatonic. For many years his family had to see nothing but his shell and they couldn’t understand how and why he had to linger so. Anthony was on my prayer list and now he is invisible but happy I am sure. His family is experiencing the holy emotional brew of joy and grief, mixed with peace.  Anthony reminded me of how mysterious God can be, and I am humbled by his story.

My best friend went to Africa this week too. Like Anthony and Andy, he became invisible to me, but email assured me that he would eventually reappear.   We usually share everything together, my best friend and me, but this time he knows exactly what I am doing and I only have a vague notion of his surroundings. He is on a military base and his room is called a container. Sounds like an adventure and I can’t wait to hear the details when he returns.

Hopefully next week my message will sing to you, a beautiful and inspiring song.

Peace,

Evangeline    

Good and Evil

Dear Diary,

This has been a terrible week. It started with a call from someone telling me that I was being stabbed in the back. When I tried to turn around to see who was doing that I was slapped and told to face forward or else the ranks of my assailants would grow and I would surely die. What a dilemma. I didn’t want to die and I didn’t know if God wanted me to turn around and fight or just stand still and trust Him. After all, He said that if someone steals your coat give him your cloak too, and if someone slaps you on the cheek, turn and let Him slap the other. So I wondered if that also meant that if someone stabs you in the back you should let Him. Now that would be fine with me because I am sure that God would heal the wounds, or if need-be resurrect me, but for two things. I wonder if I deserve to be stabbed, well I don’t mean murdered exactly but if the stabbing is the result of something I did to open that hole for the Enemy to destroy me. If that is the case, I have work to do to close that hole. Secondly, I wonder if I should develop fight-skills. St George, Archangel Michael, King David, Joan of Arc, did not turn the other cheek and God was with them.

I read a book once that described what happens after the body dies and it said that as the soul is ascending it passes through a place of cross examination, where demons accuse the person of wrongs trying to pull him or her down with them. The person’s soul must defend itself, with the help of angels, saints and his or her own good deeds. Ultimately, the soul is either brought down by the demons or is allowed to pass through to heaven. [The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching by Constantine Cavarnos] I think about that from time to time and figure I should practice defending myself so I can pass and ascend. Resisting demons by self defense is a fight skill.

Besides the attempted murder, I realized this week that in times of trouble or need I could not count on help from a particular friend. That was another blow that I did not expect, but hopefully I will always be more reliant on God than on any man. It was just a disappointment.

To add to the terrible week, another friend and fellow aspiring immortal went to the hospital and was suffering greatly. This shook me up quite a bit because we aspiring immortals are like one big body of a person and what afflicts one cell of us afflicts the closest cells too. So part of me was on morphine and other terrible drugs to stay alive.

The work week ended with the news that a team member’s son took his own life. Just the thought of such horror, even miles away, like an explosion of an atom bomb in a neighboring town, was nearly unbearable. I wrote these parents-in-anguish a letter in which I pulled out every salve I could muster-up to help heal them (and me too) from this tragic news.

The previous week it had occurred to me how protected my life is from so many evils, and I am grateful. Some lives are so beset with troubles, as mine was in the past, those days that steered me to the path of aspiring immortals. This week I practiced my old regimen of running to the Lord, to the Bible for answers and guidance. I remembered the days when I was taught to see with my heart and not my eyes, to turn from evil with a spiritual jump from its frightening precipice knowing that I would be caught by my Savior.

I suppose that if I turn the other cheek to my back stabbers, even if I am wrong to do so, God will know that I did the wrong thing for the right reasons. And if I deserve the loss of protection, hopefully He will tell me what I need to do to close the breach that let such evil in. Hopefully too; next week will be another joyous peaceful one. That’s one good reason why time is so valuable on this old earth; evil passes away with time and that is good. It is also good when God’s spirit-army does the fighting for us.

Lilly's Earth Day Birth Day

Dear God,

Thank you for the surprises, and the miracle, and for giving me a tiny glimpse of You, how you know what will happen before it does; that was fun. I suspect that these gifts were Your way of showing me that You and Your angels were there when Lilly Juliana was born last Thursday.

Her mommy was surprised that her birth was so different than her brother’s, so much faster did Lilly make her grand entrance into this world. She was surprised not to have the hours of waiting that she anticipated when she told her husband to take their little Cole to the baseball game. But thank You that Cole’s godfather, recently arrived from Colorado, was near the ballpark and for the way they managed to meet through the crowds to release the daddy to go to the hospital when called. Thank you for steering Lilly’s daddy through congested rush hour traffic to his baby girl’s birth moment. Thank You Lord for surprising Lilly’s parents; may they always have enough time to recover from the unexpected.

Especially thank You for the miracle that little Lilly was so big and healthy even though her pre-birth environment was not normal, new information that surprised the parents and the scientists. Her health is a gift I will cherish especially because to achieve it, You overcame nature. Were you answering prayer Lord, or did You do that to surprise her mamma again, or because You wanted Lilly’s earth day birthday to be touched by the unearthly, the Super Naturalness of You. 

Lord, thank You for casting me in a little part of that big, sunny, clear, spring day. How wonderful it was to be present during the last doctor’s visit and especially for the lunch we all shared with my father’s echo in the courtyard, and the few hours of walking and riding we spent together while Lilly’s mommy became increasingly aware that her birth day had finally come, five days late and right on time.

Thank You Lord for every perfect minute of her birth day, and now I have this request. Lord, please bless this little Lilly whom you brought from the darkness of the womb into the light of this world. Bless her with a vision of You. May she see You, the Creator of this glorious earth, walking beside her and within her. May she speak with you often and may she listen as You speak to her. With her flowery name and her earth day birthday grant Lilly a special love for this beautiful planet of ours, to care for it and protect it from its enemies, the wasteful, the polluters, and those who would curse it with vile words and deeds. May little Lilly Juliana live, under your watchful Father’s eye, in such a way that she can inherit the new earth as her everlasting home.

I suppose You knew I would dare to ask for even more.

Love always,

Evangeline.  

Mary

No sooner had I emerged from my mother’s womb than I instinctively knew something was very wrong. It wasn’t just that I was cold; I had no way of knowing what was going on in my mother’s mind any more. Gone was her blood flow, her heartbeat, the gurgling sound that so often lulled me to sleep. I can’t tell you how I knew what she was thinking, but I did. A tingling sensation told me when she was nervous or afraid. I heard the arguments with my father as the loud shouts penetrated through the walls of my womb. I heard her cry.

Suddenly all of that was over. The space between us grew and grew and grew until I neither saw her nor heard any sign of her, not even a pinprick was left.

They told me that months went by before my mother, Mary, and I reunited. Of course I was happy to smell her again, but I was more than a little confused too.

Oh Mary, my Maria. Mother of my flesh. Why do you cry?

I marveled when I read that Christ’s mother Mary, whose birth was the answer to her elderly parent’s prayers, was sent away to be raised by others. Did she cry too? Was Gabriel the first angel she met?

Holy Mary, Mother of God, how gracefully you accepted the shame of your pregnancy, the bumpy trek down dusty roads to Bethlehem! How you shamed Eve when you resisted temptations presented to you over and over again to eat the forbidden fruit of knowing good and evil. Not once did you doubt that God was trustworthy, even when your eyes and your circumstances lied to you.

Mary brave and faithful, receive me in your vast heart, holy vessel of light. Let me hear you breathe around me, your heart beat in rhythm with my own. Please give new birth to my soul with your motherly guidance. Evervirgin mother awaken me if I fall asleep clutching my oil lamp. Tell me when the Father would be displeased and shield me from His hot displeasure when I fail. Teach me how to be as true to life as you.

Mother of my soul, don’t abandon me. Mothers Mary unite in more than name, give new birth to my Mary, my Maria too. You who knew not death, live on as our mother.  Marias, mammas of flesh and soul how we will rejoice in the day of fleshly immortality! Alleluia and Amen. 

The Long Road Home

Once upon a time, long long ago there lived a young man and his bride in a lovely apartment on Q Street. But they had a roommate who banished them from their home because she wasn’t anyone’s bride and that seemed fair. To her.

So the lovers moved north to a small town where the Greek gave the young man work and a home of his own on Key Circle for the young man and his bride to reside. That is until the Greek’s horns hardened at which time he yanked the work away, and turned off the home’s heat which made the toilet ice-up.

So the lovers returned to the south where Gus, the kind criminal, gave the young man enough money for labor to rent a cottage on Singleton Rd. But when the bride was with child, the landlord refused to repair the cause of the stink that forced her to sit out in the cold all day to keep from vomiting.

So the lovers started to pray to God for a home of their own. And they read the Bible to learn about the God they were praying to Who could give them a home where they could live happily ever after. And they asked for help from a man too and he said “NO!”  

So the lovers escaped the stink when they arrived at a small mansion on Delaware St and first gave birth to a girl. One week later the sheriff knocked on their door to demand that they vacate that house for no reason. Secret was that the hateful owner fled her man and wanted the bride’s home for her own again.

So the lovers prayed more and went to Turner Lane where they begged God to let them stay. They believed He said YES, even when told they had to buy or go and richer buyers peered through their windows at their nakedness. So they tried harder to believe till the Judge gave them three days to flee.

After a few comforting miracles, the lovers arrived in haste at Falls Rd where the landlord guaranteed them three months. Two years later God promised a home of their own and showed them 3 acres with streams. Love birthed a boy but the poor divorced lord needed shelter for his 90yr old father and he.

So, the young man and his bride, his girl and his boy fled to the acres of Glen Mill with highest hopes in their hearts for a home of their own, not just the trailer on landlord’s land. Joyous family till the county demanded they go since the earth failed to perc, and God gave them the seed of a son instead.

Tearful lovers traded God’s green acres of sunshiny days for three years of concrete winter in a Misty Dale row house. The faithful bride and God communed often. So that on the day that she approached her small door to find posted orders to leave, for another landlord divorce, she almost laughed.

So the man and his bride and three children went to Derbyshire Road to continue the Christian race when the owner demanded the business be gone even though they could stay. Now with two rents to pay and three beaks to feed, the young man and his bride worked harder than ever to live.

Seventeen years since the wedding and still without a home of their own for the 10th time the notso young man and his notso young bride had nowhere to go when told to buy or leave. Mother and God came up with the money to make the landlady disappear and they stayed another five years.

When the lord of the office paid them a visit to say it was time to go God whispered that this was the last of those words and continued to hide relief. After a year of tears and searching, a brand new house and office of their own instantly appeared on MacArthur Blvd where they lived through new wars.

Does it help you to know that the man and his wife eventually became landlords to two? But most important of all, God gave them a home of their own far from MacArthur’s wars where there they stay by still waters of Keyes Pond, closing the circle of Key near where this story began.

And does it frighten you too that the name of their own home is Point of the Loon? So here they live happily ever after God’s kingdom within and sun o’rhead, awaiting the home of their own where demon death cannot banish the man nor his bride and Lord-willing their children three.

All the while of this sad epic, the bride asking God-Lord at least for a good story to tell, but here it appears that she only received a hardly believable bad poem with a moral that says to stay fix on the road to your home in the high heavens...no matter what comes your way .

Be still and know that I am God.” 

Father

Did you notice that my quest to find the kingdom of God that is said to lie within began and ended with denying one’s self for love?

 

When God’s Son, Jesus, said NO to His own desire to keep walking around this old earth with His friends, healing people and amazing them and He sweated blood thinking about being hung, He denied Himself to do what His Father sent Him to do. That is to die for love of humankind, for our immortal life in the kingdom of God.

 

After wandering the face of the earth and my heart seeking God’s kingdom, I suddenly remembered that the only time I had ever glimpsed such an amazing place was when I decided to do what I knew would make me unhappy for the sake of love. It was an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny crucifixion but it opened the gates to a spectacular kingdom.

 

God loves circles.

 

Aspiring immortals who love God so much more than we love ourselves, our pride, even our opinions, are the ones who are invited to experience the kingdom of God within and the future one. My sad realization was that I can only possibly experience the inner kingdom if I end my search for it and instead spend more time yielding my will to God’s Will even if it kills me.

 

Even though the kingdom of God is surely within me, I am not allowed to go in and out of there whenever it pleases me. That sacred city, like a holy altar will open its gates to me when the Lord allows it to. Not a minute before.

 

Meanwhile, at the center of the inner kingdom of Evangeline also dwell other people and I am sure even a few fairies and angels. So, for now I can visit them whenever I want. Every night this week, when the sun has gone and darkness lets me rest, I have visited my father.

 

Jesus and I have this in common. We love our fathers.

 

My father led a life rich in love and suffering. His intimate relationship with suffering probably began on that cold February evening when he was a boy of ten who had just learned that his adoring mother, who went to buy them cupcakes, was killed by a car. I didn’t know that boy, but I know that his own strong and holy father taught him how to live when life was severe, and how to love the Lord. Day after sorrowful day young Charley listened to his father’s songs coming up from the basement kitchen, love songs to his departed wife, songs his dad composed as he cooked for his family of eight. My father told me that when he was a teenager he studied character, and how he measured up. No wonder Dad became such a strong and beloved man.

 

The Charley I knew was also a single father because of my mother’s psychological illness. How he suffered from her disease, bitter conflict and loneliness; so tormented was he that he even lost his business and his fortune. Rather than relieve himself of his obligations with bankruptcy, Charley shut down the business and worked for others to pay every last debt while his wife was in institutions and his teenage girls at home depended on him.

 

When cancer was his last torturer, dad wanted to keep on living, even if it meant to keep on suffering, for love of his girls. I’ll never forget the distressed look on his face when he realized that he would have to leave us and his fear that we would need him and he wouldn’t be here for us. He must have been remembering the bitter grief of his own mother-loss. The many times I did indeed need him and he wasn’t here, I had that look to remind me that his wish and will was not granted, so I went to Our Father who art in heaven for help.

 

It took me several years after he died to cry, so relieved was I that his suffering, not just the disease had finally ended. Dad tried to teach me how to deny myself on several occasions when I thought the fair thing to do was the thing I wanted most. He said the fair thing to do was what the other person wanted. And so on my first father’s day without him, my gift to my dad was to give away something that I wanted very much to keep.

 

My father didn’t just tell me that he loved me, he showed it. He showed me the value of suffering and the importance of reaching out to those you love. My dad is a worthy immortal who died to self over and over and over again. And so when seeking the inner kingdom of God, near the sacred and shut gates I spend time precious time with my father within. Thank you Dad.

My Quest

I know what you’re thinking. You think that when Jesus Christ said that the kingdom of God was within, He was speaking of goodness and joy, of love and peace and honesty and not of a place that is like the new earth to which He will usher us aspiring immortals at the end of the ages. You think I misunderstood and you have been too polite or too disinterested to tell me to my face.

 

Well, I have a confession to make and it’s true so I know what I’m saying. I have been there.

 

When I went I was not trying to go there because I didn’t know it existed. Neither did I know then that Jesus Christ said the kingdom of God was within. I thought my way there but it wasn’t my thoughts that sent me. God did, I’m sure of that.

 

It was February 1974. I had graduated from art school in December and was working a temp-job at the headquarters of Ginn’s Office Supply Company to earn enough money to go to Las Vegas to be with my best friend for the birth of her first child. My job was filing papers in densely packed cabinets. Almost every time I had to insert another sheet of paper my fingers were either cut or hurt from old cuts.

 

One day while standing at the open drawer I suddenly and without warning went to a blue light filled place. I felt euphoric; it was incredibly beautiful. I was there even as my body stood in front of the file cabinet at Ginns. I didn’t want to return. I also had no choice when I was sent back. I immediately tried to return by thinking the same thoughts that seemed to catapult me but nothing happened.

 

I think I know why God opened His gates to me, and that is why I know that a person must be invited and cannot enter by his or her own will.

 

I was young and pensive. I had recently come back home from a trip to England and Greece where I went to be with a young man who loved me. I had met George the summer of ‘73 in Greece. We played in the sun all day, water skiing, swimming, and sun bathing and at night we went to clubs with our friends and danced. When I returned for my final semester George wrote me love letters and called often. He lived in London and in Greece. He hadn’t gone to college because his father was a shipping magnate like Aristotle Onassis and George worked for him. He invited me to come to London for New Year’s Eve to meet his parents and then we would fly to Athens, to his condo.

 

In Athens I pretended that I was a rich wife. I dressed up every morning after he left for work and sat and read all day. The maid cooked and cleaned, and spied. I read CS Lewis’ the Screwtape Letters. That book taught me how to act peacefully and calm when George’s grandmother who lived next door came over to demand that I leave. Fortunately I had my uncle’s home to go to and then back to the States. George did not want to let me go, but the threats from his mother fought powerfully against young love.

 

Back in the States more calls and love letters came to me from poor sweet George who I grew to dislike for his weakness. At the time, I still thought that I had a choice of whether to return to George or move on.

 

Here I was, young and thinking that I could be the author of my life, a life for which I was desperately searching for meaning and purpose. I was now reading Neitche and Gide, not reading but drinking them in like water for a parched throat. They became companions of my impassioned mind.

 

In the young Greek Englishman I had found someone who was very different than my other friends having no college degree or even a driver’s license and being so dependent on his family and therefore easily controlled by them. I disliked his gossipy world and his dependence on his family, even his clinging to me. Having never been required to pay bills, his family money did not matter. What I liked about George was his purity and his innocence and his desire for me. I was torn like the ripped papers that refused to slide into the drawer, torn like the skin of my painful fingers.

 

What was the meaning and purpose of life? What was love? After weeks of reading and furiously writing out my thoughts in words and pictures that morning at Ginn’s I concluded that love was distasteful but the only true purpose for life. I concluded that I would sacrifice my own happiness for the sake of love, for surely I didn’t think I could be happy in George’s world. I would devote myself to love as the ultimate purpose, the ultimate lesson, and that commitment immediately opened to me if only for a moment, the inner kingdom of God.

 

George’s mother won. She hired someone to introduce him to Athenian prostitutes to distort his passion and threatened to disown him financially. It took a while but it worked. After Vegas, I went to teach art in Africa and eventually God gave me a poor young man who also loved me and gave me plenty of chances to practice denying myself for love.

 

I have never been granted a return to that light-filled place but I am always there in my memory of it. I now realize that the desire to go to the inner kingdom of God will never get me there because my yearning is self-centered. What a quandary.

The LaGuardia Lesson about the Inner Kingdom

There is one thing I want to know. Is it possible to go to the inner kingdom of God while sitting in an airport? I would so much rather be there than here. If I can go there at all, now would be a perfect time to figure out how. Maybe that is why I missed my flight and landed in LaGuardia for this wait. My Boss wanted me to see if I could go there when I hate where I am at the moment. Maybe I am usually too comfortable to go to the inner kingdom of God.

Usually I try to go to the inner kingdom of God in the middle of the night when I am in my comfy cozy bed and I can’t sleep. Since I have pretty much decided thanks to Mr. Freud that I can’t go there with my mind, I try to clear the room of my mind or I think about how wonderful God is, and pray hoping that I will somehow stumble upon the door and walk in. Unfortunately, I end up in a pool of random thoughts, or I fall asleep.

Now I am in a room filled with loud chatty people. On two sides glass walls separate us from a dense fog. It is so foggy that it looks like we are on an airplane travelling through clouds or waiting for the Judgment Seat. Here, I am not alone in my desire to be elsewhere. I am surrounded by hundreds of people who also want to go somewhere else, some want to go to Dayton, others to Syracuse. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if the lady announced that the next flight will take us to the inner kingdom of God! All aboard! I am jealous. At least these other people will end up where they want to be. Not me. Not by plane through the fog at least.

It looks like I am being shown all the ways how NOT to reach the inner kingdom of God. It’s apophatic! Apophatic reasoning is used to know God by what He is not because it is impossible to know God by what He is because He is so immense. God is not mean, or a liar, or small. And, I can’t reach the inner kingdom of God through my mind, in a sleepless bed, or by airplane.

Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within and I believe Him. It would have been very helpful had He given us an idea of how to get there. Instead He described the kingdom of God in many oblique ways like the valuable pearl. Did He call it a pearl because it is born within? How beautiful.

Ahaa! I just thought of something. One reason why I am having such a hard time is that I am not trying to go to the kingdom of Evangeline, but that is where I always end up.

To go to God's kingdom, I must be invited even if that kingdom dwells inside of me. This reminds me of my pro-life argument. For the same reason that the inner baby should not be extinguished at the will of the outer mama, the inner kingdom of God is not beholden to the whim or will of the outer person.

Like the baby and the mama, God and I share this body. His kingdom within is a royal palace. I can clear my mind for hours, or I could praise and worship but if I am not invited in, I am as if stuck at the airport.

Lord, may I visit Your kingdom within me someday soon?

Holy Kismet

Our God amazed me once again yesterday. It was quite by surprise which made what I want to tell you especially wonderful! I had planned a forty day memorial prayer-service for my aunt Dot after church. It was to be very informal, perhaps only Richard and me and Father Steve in front of the icons. The family I invited, one by one told me why he or she could not attend. I wanted to invite others, especially Katherine and Zoë but never had a chance to call them. Then on the way to church, I realized that I had only one check left and about three separate reasons to use it. So I combined the amounts and tried to think about how I would get the message across for the long term need and the short term needs simultaneously!

Well, in the fashion of a typical aspiring immortal I entered the church semi-oblivious to the invisible Spirit around me. It was early and so I was greeted by an usher friend to whom I had wanted to deliver a message. Since so few people had arrived by then Chris had plenty of time to listen and consider what I wanted to tell him. Then, when the matter of the single check was about to become a complex issue, the behind the scenes deacon-orchestrator suddenly appeared just in time to take my check and assure me that everything would happen that I needed. I was astonished at how easily that problem was solved.

With votives in hand I went to the front of the church ready to commemorate when suddenly it came to my attention that one of the three votives should be for my beloved cousin Mary. It was as if her place on the candelabra beside the icon of Mary and Jesus at Cana was waiting for my candle. I obeyed grateful to have been reminded that her fourth anniversary of passing had only been exactly 3 weeks ago. Then I moved on to my usual candelabra beside the Transfiguration and lit one for Aunt Dot and her mother and sisters. And the other flame represented her father and brothers.

When I walked back out, en route to the balcony and my favorite seat who should I find but Katherine, the woman I had wanted to call all week! The last few minutes had been so perfectly orchestrated that I instantly projected them to my whole life and was overwhelmed by how perfectly God is able to stage our lives when we are in-synch with His Holy Will. All those tears of joy may have seemed pretty strange to Katherine. But my invisible guardian was probably just grinning from ear to ear.

The cherry on top was that elderly and frail Marietta, and good friend of my Aunt Dot, her sisters and parents had made a rare visit to church and was able as well to join our half circle of love during Dot's memorial service. I could not have planned the event more perfectly.

Hallelujah! 

Washing Time

Dear God,

It would be wonderful if You would put all that I have seen and experienced this week in one nice and tidy box where everything is folded neatly, and stacked, and sorted by color. And then You can shoot it up with some of your extra light so it glows in the dark. Please?

We’ll do it together. Here are the things I want in the box. I’ll pick them up and you fold and put them in. 

  1. Looking forward to escaping Washington, DC during the inauguration. Too many people. People who hated Our good and sincere friend with a purple passion and kept stabbing him with pins and daggers and he was so brave about it all. And every time they stabbed him again, it was like they were stabbing me, and it hurt. And now they are so happy, and I am happy that they are happy, but I’m dizzy too because they changed from haters into laughers so fast that it makes me wonder whether it can be true that all that hatred and all those daggers and pins carved something beautiful. How is that possible?
  2. I floated down into my wooden nest surrounded by snow. And all I wanted to do was to talk with You. But We had to wait and love others. So I waited as patiently as possible and loved as devotedly as I could all excited with anticipation for our date.
  3. But You cancelled it!
  4. Since You are never wrong, I figured that You wanted me to show you that I could be flexible. So I bent forward and backward and side to side with a Mona Lisa smile.
  5. But the truth was that You had a job for me to do.
  6. A two bedroom apartment where my beloved aunts lived together for twenty seven years and one lived alone for ten more years. We have two weeks to empty it. You recruited me to pull boxes of treasures out of high dark corners. The bathtub is now a trash bin. My beloved family so neat and tidy, so rich in orderliness and love of shoes and purses. Treasures from the past: a 48 star flag, clay images of mirth. Decades compressed into space with walls. World War II things, Hallmark Christmas ornaments, photos galore of strangers and young aunts and uncles, dads and sisters and cousins, of the dead family when we were alive and before we were alive.
  7. Katherine Hepburn was Scottish last night, young and beautiful in a world very different than the one where deliriously cheering celebrating crowds start fresh to have their way of making the world the place we all want it to be, very different than the snowy town of proud and rugged poor, of World War II red star banners and tidy drawers. I saw a million worlds parade before my eyes. Herodotus and Xenophon stories of war and wisdom. He said in 500 BC that happiness is not found in wealth but in a life that has completed the earthly phase which is devoted to others.

 Okay, do Your magic!

 With love,

 Evangeline

My child, small and thoughtful, let Us squeeze the Time out of your pieces first. See the jeering, the disappointments, the muddy things that water helps to wash away. Thank you hydrogen, thank you oxygen. Now, we have the essence of them all: hope, love, beauty, joy. We will keep this part of everything you want to store. Time corrupts; but time corrupts evil. It is My favorite joke. Now let us fold your treasures together. Do you see the glow? Are you happy?

Rocks

Dear Aspiring Immortal Friend,

 

It’s been a busy week. Since my last message, I was nicked with a couple of flaming arrows, and a few true immortals gave me the words to say and the hymns to sing to usher my 84 year old aunt to the side of the invisibles. Saints, if you’re reading this, (do you suppose they have internet in heaven?) I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am sure that because of the perfect attitude of your prayers Aunt Dot is safe-and-soundly delivered to her family. When I was in church for Epiphany a strong and vivid sense of joy came to me as from her parents and her brothers and sisters who were looking forward to Dot’s big day. Strangely the joy was accompanied by an equally strong sense of sadness that she was leaving. The machine she was connected to drew a flat line at around two a.m. that night. Although if you ask me, the hugs had already begun.

 

Then I went and gazed at the ocean for a couple of days. I didn’t think enough about water. About how it cleans by killing badness. Someday I want to think more about that.

 

But today, I want my favorite immortal to tell you my favorite passage of his, and here it is:

 

“Christ left us on earth in order that we should become like beacons of light and teachers unto others; that we might act like leaven, move among men like angels, be like men unto children, and like spiritual men unto animal men, in order to win them over, and that we may be like seed, and bear abundant fruit. There would be no need for words, if we bore witness with our deeds, there would be no pagans if we were true Christians.” Chrysostom.

 

I think that sums it all up. I hope the words make you feel stronger and more light-filled today. Remember to dodge those arrows and trust that the Creator of the timeless universe is not phased a bit by current events.

 

Your friend,

evangeline

New Age Gifts

It is only Christmas Eve and already I have received two bizarre gifts. Well, let me put it this way, my feet think the gifts are bizarre. My heart finds them full of wonder, and that is exactly what I have been doing with these gifts ever since I received them. Wondering and wondering.

Before I write the next lines about the bizarre gifts I want to remind you of the time when Jesus was being arrested and Peter whipped out his sword and cut off an abductor-man’s ear. Peter thought it was right to try to prevent the abduction. Peter was thinking with his feet. Jesus fixed the ear right away and chided Peter. He was thinking with the heart of an immortal.

The first gift my heart received was the sudden disappearance of a man that I considered to be the most interesting and enjoyable person to talk with that I know. He was also a loyal friend. Rob woke up on the 11th of December, five months to the minute after he began his 63rd year on this old earth and then suddenly separated from his body. He sent his body to Georgetown University hospital for scientists to play with and began his journey. One reason that Rob’s disappearance was a gift for me was because he has been visiting me a lot more than he ever did when he could use the phone or email. I asked him the other day what he would have done if he was given at least one whole day to get ready to go. We both laughed when he said he would have called me to say good-by because we know that’s not true. But it was a nice thing to say so I knew it came from Rob. Besides hearing from Rob more than ever, I am grateful for how close he has made the land of immortality appear. This sudden new vision of old embodied life reminds me of last summer when I was traveling so much and the world kept changing with every blink of the eye. I’m pretty sure that this gift of awareness came from Rob’s new invisible world, and that I will play with it for a very long time.

The second gift may have been from my Boss. It is so good to know that like me, He gets all excited when He has a good gift to bestow. I could feel His joy. Every year my Mother sends me to confession and every year I whip out my book, the Mark, to measure myself against all of the commands of Jesus. Only this year I was given a vision. I was told to imagine that I was about to go to the dreaded judgment seat of Christ where everything I ever said or did or even thought was going to be used against me. Only this time, I was given an opportunity to confess before the trial. Whatever I accused myself of, if I was truly sorry, could not be used to destroy me. WOW! What a wonderful gift. I cried over it.

There was one more gift, not a bizarre one fortunately; it was a huge white one that came via Mother Nature. For Christmas this year I drove up north. The drive took 18 hours. The roads were clear and dry and everything went very smoothly. Only after I was all snuggled in my wooden cocoon, a big snowstorm came and covered everything including my tracks. I awoke in a white world, just the way I like it.

Tomorrow is Christmas day; I hope and pray that the people I gave gifts to like them as much as I like mine. I am so happy that during this one month of the year Christians are allowed to come out of their closets and sing a lot. I hope you will be singing all day long, even with silent song.

Merry Christmas my aspiring immortal friend.

evangeline∞

When Bodies Matter

My father is invisible. Some of us aspiring immortals don’t like to use the “D” word when referring to people we love. Of course, he wasn’t always invisible. The worst part about his invisibility is that I rarely hear from him since he disappeared. Fortunately, once in a while, say every five or ten years I do hear from him. On these occasions I’m relieved to see that he is still alive.

The first time I heard from Dad was at Clyde’s restaurant ten years after he disappeared. My children and I were having dinner with my mother in the ground floor dining room with its elevated red leather booths that encircled a big round bar. We liked the slick paintings of cars on the walls but, except for my cigarette-happy mom, we didn’t like the air quality. The food was tasty though and mom could easily make the two-mile drive to meet us there. On the evening I want to tell you about I was going to ask her to come to live with us so I could watch over her better.

After I popped the question, to my great surprise, I heard Dad in my heart tell me real clearly how happy he was. It shocked me to hear him and to learn that he was right there, at Clyde’s, at that moment! I gave him a quick non-verbal hug and kiss then went back to hear what mom thought about the idea.

There were a few other times that my invisible father let me know that he was still alive, but not enough for me. Dad became invisible before he could do one thing that he wanted to do for about ten years before he disappeared. He wanted to go to Panama, the country. It’s not that he couldn’t go now; it’s just that he really wanted to be seen, so he sent me.

I remember once before I was honored to represent an invisible aspiring immortal. My cousin Nicky, who was eleven and a year younger than me fell from a balcony right before my very eyes. I ran to tell his mother that he fell. I didn’t know that he had left his body right then and there, on the sidewalk below, in front of all the playing cousins. Almost thirty years later, I stood at his mother’s hospital bedside with her two remaining children at the moment she left her body. I didn’t know I was going to represent Nicky when I went to visit his mom on August 13th.

August 13th must be my day for representing people since that was the day Dad wanted me to represent him at his friend’s 60th birthday party in Panama.

In Panama, I met a big happy family who knew my father when he was visible, and who still to this day, twenty years later ask God to keep him happy. I suppose Dad’s friend’s 60th birthday was special because that was his age when he celebrated his very last year of healthiness so now that his friend was sixty it was like they could be the same age finally! In Panama, the family talked to me about Dad as if they just ran into him at the barber shop; like time stopped. It was most interesting.

For the most part representing my father was fun since I saw places and people that I would have never experienced without him. I saw mountains in clouds and an eyeful pale blue sky hovering over a broad light-filled blue ocean. The two looked like they had been married forever. I saw yellow beaked toucans flying through the air and sloths sleeping in trees and an iridescent blue butterfly. I ate oranges and limes minutes away from being plucked. The best part was that I met lots of sisters whose hearts were as big as that ocean: Lelly and Ida, Marty, Ada, Carmen, Alicia, Angela and Cholita and their two brothers Ottavio and Tommy. All of the sisters had this in common. They had lost the men they once loved deeply, and like their brothers, they lost their mother only two years ago. The next generations of sons and daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren filled the holes in their hearts so well that I wished that all communities and all countries could behave as this big family by talking to each other and caring for each other almost every day. They even prayed together on Thursday evenings. I suppose I have to wait for the new planet to see that kind of love world-wide. This family absorbed me into them like air greets aroma, like I really was my father.

But there was also a disconcerting aspect to representing my father that I would not, in a million years have expected to experience so vividly.

By coincidence this mission fell during the last week of the two-week feast that commemorates the time when the Virgin Mary fell asleep and then left this old earth body and all. I have grown to love Jesus’ mother since she first introduced herself to me personally many years ago. The first time she spoke to me she was acting like a regular mother telling me that I expected too much too fast and I should stop being a brat. I took it pretty well. Well enough to ask her later to help me take care of my own mother Mary who was going to be very hard to live with. I have to tell you that I didn’t really expect an answer from her. It came through slowly but surely. I think it was she who turned my mother into a spoon of honey and gave me some of her own patience. It was a miracle I’ll never forget.

To honor the Virgin Mary I left my Dad’s favorite family to visit a church in Panama City full of Greeks who loved Jesus’ mother too. Every square inch of this church’s walls were covered with paintings of aspiring immortals and scenes of Jesus’ special earthly moments. At the church I met many friendly visible aspiring immortals who chatted away in Greek like a pod of Greekness floating in a Latin pond.

I think my dad went to church with me the second time I went because it was there during the big celebration liturgy on August 15th that for a few unusual moments I could feel my father’s love for my mother and his burden from her long and unusual illness that twisted him up.

Since Dad became invisible, he talked to me about mom only once. It was in March 2001 when I was driving down a highway towards San Francisco. I was in the car alone saying my prayers out loud when out of the clear blue sky my dad told me that he forgave my mother for being so difficult in her sickness because he could see how she was like honey deep inside. He told me that it would be good to bury mom next to him when she didn’t need her body anymore. I was incredibly surprised to hear him say that, actually to hear him at all. I didn’t even obey his request for reasons we can both talk about when we see each other again, if anyone still cares. Maybe that will be at my trial; yikes!

So on August 15, 2008 when my father let me feel his old earthly burden for a moment I cried in public. I think Dad and I both thought that God was being His same brilliant self by orchestrating the Mary day with the Panama trip. Frankly, Dad’s heart was a little too much for me to handle so I was glad that I didn’t have to represent him much longer. I just wanted to honor him and his friends and my mother and of course Jesus’ mother all at the same time. I supposed that if God could invent multi-various calculus then why shouldn’t I be able to honor a few different kinds of people simultaneously?

I learned on this trip to Panama that when being visible matters, it is always helpful to have an aspiring immortal around who can hear the holy invisibles and will help out when they need a favor. I just hope that when I become invisible I will know someone who can hear me too.


BOO!

The deal I have with my Boss is that I have to write what He wants me to. If I do what He wants, and not what I want then He will learn to trust me and He will keep using me. Because I like this job so much, I do what I’m told. In fact, that seems to be the way our relationship works. I know He’s around when He asks me to do things, lots of different things I would never do on my own like giving people money I can’t afford, or being nice to someone I really don’t like when I’d much rather get even.

He knows me well enough to know two things about me. 1) I don’t like to be scared, and 2) I just want to write pleasantries. So He scares me and tells me to write this message. Thanks, Boss! Some kids like to be thrown into the deep end of a pool or they think it is fun to have their heads held below water. They actually come up laughing. Then they dry off and go to a scary movie. Geesh! Not me!

My name is Evangeline and that means “bearer of good news” only today I have bad news to tell you. I know I have to tell you this bad news because two things just happened to show me that. Maybe three. I think it started with going from place to worldly place which showed me to tell you how swiftly we can wake up to a completely different reality. Every minute in time is brand new. Time helps us get used to change. Then, there was the death of my dog that showed me how empty a future can be without a connection to God.

After Pepper died I tried to get used to life without her and settle into a new comfort zone when one morning, around 6:30 am I found myself at an airport literally being torn away from my loved ones. Off I went into the clear blue sky while they were left penniless and abandoned below. Is that what it will be like if I am lucky enough to meet Jesus in the air? Yikes! Ouch!

This event made me think that I was supposed to tell aspiring immortals that without notice (…. oh I really don’t want to write this) the end of the world will happen. Okay, there I’ve said it and now I feel like an old man with a long white beard wearing a filthy tunic and walking down Fifth Avenue shouting to anyone who would listen to repent because the end is near.

Boss, can’t we write about the joys of answered prayer or even about the subliminal language of music instead?

I tried hard to forget that message when the next day I opened the Good Book to where I left off and It said, “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other one left.” Geesh!! How did He time this so well? When did He figure out that I was going to be thinking about this and then read that page in the Book that writes about it! And It said: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heavens with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with the great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another.” Then the Book goes on to advise aspiring immortals about what to expect with warnings to be ready. You can read more in Matthew Chapter 24.

Aspiring immortals and other mortals spend a lot of time trying to make a good future. We fantasize about how happy potential lovers could make us, or about beautifying homes, and when we want to get really serious we think about how one person would make a better president than the other. Some politicos actually fear and hate the opponent team because they imagine that the opponent will lead the world into destruction. Where do they think we’re going anyway, no matter which team wins? It is all about a future that we may not be preparing for at all. When I pack my bags, I want to make sure I know what season I am going to. I would hate to wake up in winter when I am really only prepared for summer.

Well, that’s about as scary as I can get. I said what I don’t at all want to say and that is that I think we must be reminded to be ready to flee from people we love, places we are adorning, and from the politics of our old countries. Be ready to be different. The good news is that we are going to something so much better… once we get used to it! The more we make ourselves aware of the reality of the moment we’re training for, the easier it will be, and the more likely we will make it through the catastrophe before the triumph.

Now, let’s talk about music, eh?

Peppermint and Praying

Peppermint Moon is dead. We stood around her as she lay with great dignity her black head held high, her eyes bright and calm. She didn’t even flinch when the man lifted her paw high and injected the lethal serum into her armpit. Her head simply descended slowly in Gabrielle’s cupped hand onto the pillow. I shut her eyes for the first time. We all cried.

By the high standards of an inspiring immortal: humility, forgiveness, trust, loyalty, absence of pride or arrogance Peppermint Moon may have been the holiest being I have ever known. I think she and her kind were put on this old earth to show us that it is possible to be good. If a being were only judged by these traits and nothing more then surely Peppermint would be an immortal. Because she lived at my feet whether I was sitting at my desk or walking from room to room. I often called her Miss Pepperrina Underfoot… right after tripping over her. I have often wondered if she lived in the moment so thoroughly that she forgot when I lost my temper with her, or did she want to be near me so much that it didn’t matter?

Since dogs seem naturally to make perfect companions why does God bother to try to tame humans? What more does one need than the character of a Labrador Retriever to be welcomed into the real world?

Dogs don’t pray.

I wonder if CS Lewis is right about meeting our favorite pets in heaven. But if they make it to heaven then what will become of them during the Great Judgment? Will they receive new bodies too and fly over to the new planet? No, I think precious Peppermint Moon and Fido and Sparky show us the difference between a very good mortal life and immortality.

The quality of our relationships to others shows God whether or not we are fit to live in a community where life never ends. To have a place with no war, one must populate it with peacemakers. That’s why personality and character matter so much. Yet, even good mortals can enjoy happy relationships. God wants even more from an immortal. He wants to be seen.

The difference between a perfect mortal, like Pepper, and an immortal is the vertical relationship. So many mortals are skeptical, critical and judgmental of God. It must be hard for Him to be pinned back to back with doubt. The vertical relationship between an aspiring immortal and the Creator is a key to the Kingdom. Immortals know that they are made in the image and likeness of a life that is much bigger, smarter, wiser, and more tolerant than anyone we could ever know.

That the aspiring immortal can communicate with the Father of mankind is the biggest honor in the world. Every successful aspiring immortal takes full advantage of this honor and speaks with Him frequently, and listens carefully for the response. When I want most to hear a response to a question, I have learned that I must know how to listen with my eyes too. Sometimes the answer comes in events and not in words.

It is too easy to make God in our image and likeness. That’s why He gave us the Good Book that starts with the Creation and ends with the Revelation and why He gave us the Law and why He gave us Houses of Worship where we can go to have our eyesight challenged and sharpened. God wants friends who love Him for Who He is, not for whom they want Him to be. Sometimes there’s a big difference. It is the job of all good aspiring immortals to find out if there is a difference in their own hearts between the real God and their fabrication of Him. It takes a lifetime on this old earth for an aspiring immortal to develop the perfect relationship with the King of Life.

Good bye Pepper; you are missed. Hello Boss, what do you want me to do today?