"One group speaks of equations and pragmatic truths, the other speaks of revelation: but they are reaching a point now in which they are forced to admit the validity of each other's claims. Meanwhile, however, the individual's problem remains the same. How to grow up and accept this new reality, and turn it to good account in the individual life of man?"--Lawrence Durrell
I have a picture on my little computer desk, perched before me now. It's a snapshot I took with a throwaway camera, some years ago. In the snapshot, Ken's daughter B. is riding down a yellow slide on the playground in the little park near my house. She's a bit under 2, her arms are extended for balance, and one can tell that, as she slides, she has both child-like release and intense focus on her task converging in a joyful way.
If one focuses one's eye on the upper left hand portion of the picture,then one can see
two adult shoes, as if disembodied (or embodied only podiatrically) atop the slide. A parent on the slide took a bit of extra care to give B. that extra bit of luxury of a wonderful slide to earth.
This keys into a metaphor that gives me pause and joy the last few weeks. If I lay my cards down on the table, I must admit that in my particular hand there are all sorts of face cards of creed and jokers of disbelief that mingle together in a way I find pleasing rather than troubling. I simultaneously believe, for example, in an afterlife and in its being less than completely important whether there is in fact an afterlife.
Yet lately I think about the eternal life of the small differences people we love make in our lives. It's more than a bit like that adult off in the background, at the top of that slide. I learned from adults now departed a great deal about dignity, decency, perspective and compassion.
Some days, as today, Heaven for me is the memory I have of the people who have made those differences in my life and yet now are gone. I am no profound metaphysician,but
I believe that we hold candles in our hands. If we choose, we light our candles, in which burns our memories, direct and ephemeral, of people who mattered to us. They live on in us in ways so subtle and complete we cannot grasp the osmosis.
Heaven is absorbing the kindness we obtained, and radiating it back. The struggle against Hell is to the struggle to extirpate the negative impacts of less favorable influences on our life.
Each of us has our own slides to slide, and I am not sure the creeds beyond tolerance, compassion, and integrity do as much for how we live as how we live does for who we are.
Yet I don't mind at all the nostalgia I feel for the home kind but departed relatives
made for me, as this mansion of many rooms is my Paradise, in my mind.