Comfort in grief.

Standard

(Excerpt of a letter from Ben Franklin to the widow of his brother John Feb. 1756)

“That bodies should be lent to us is a kind and benevolent act of God. When they become unfit for these purposes and afford us pain instead of pleasure – instead of an aid, become an encumbrance and answer none of the intentions for which they were given – it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them.

Death is that way … Why should you and I be grieved at this, since we are soon to follow, and know where to find him.”

The Palau de la Musica Barcelona.

Standard

Like a spot of Heaven! Built by Goudi’s teacher on behalf of the local choir. Still hosts musical events from around the world. Breathtaking! Note the nature theme of roses. It was far lighter than my limited photography skills can portray (there were no dark areas, it glows with light!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Standard

Perfect sailing day, blue skies with incredible cloud formations, the gentle swish of the water, bird calls and fluffy baby swans – heaven on earth!
I had fun learning how to lift and clean the tillers whist the boats were sailing. The lake is currently full of excess floating weeds that mess up the steering so my job at one point, as helper on the patrol motor boat, was to grab the back of the sail boats and raise the tiller so the weeds came off (easier than I thought!) feeling good!

Just a sign in an antique shop window.

Standard

It’s strange how some tiny “key” opens giant doors in your mind, as if God himself had whispered some profound truth. I’d seen the old sign many times as we passed the shop to and from school, but till yesterday I’d never noticed the line, “Live like Heaven is come on earth”.

It hit me like a ton of bricks, don’t wait for it to come in actuality, live that way now! It’s very hard to explain in words. Heaven is here already, God’s love living in our hearts.To bring something to pass you must first be able it visualize it, that’s how miracles happen someone visualizes and believes.

Reading any news report we can see that Heaven has yet to take over from the hate, greed and selfishness of earth, yet we can live as if it has in our hearts, our actions. I agree with Napoleon, “impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.” I’ve done a great many “impossible” things in my life. World peace is impossible, an end to poverty is impossible, an end to hate, greed, selfishness is impossible, but is it? If we all lived as if Heaven had come on earth these things would end of themselves and even if we are one among thousands somehow that tilts the scale just a little, like happy gas released into the atmosphere and within our little bubble we could know and share the joys of Heaven..

In the presence of God (short story inspired by a dream)

Standard

floating

In the presence of God I lingered unable to tear away, drawn like a magnet to the light. Yet questions remained, permeating our relationship.

It was enough that I was here I told myself, the suffering was over, I was free at last, no more pain, chemo, or disappointments, but what of Alex, the atheist, my friend? He’d been a good man, one of the best; he’d just been hurt too much. Life had not been kind to Alex. His bed across the ward had been empty for a week, now mine was empty.

Love enwrapped me.

“You want to know?” the presence asked. I inclined my head squirming within, who was I to question?

“You loved him.” The presence beamed, “I did too, I love them all. You wonder if I sent him to hell?” My stomach churned, but I nodded, there was no hiding.

“I do not judge as man judges, even in death there is choice.” My head jerked in shock.

“But how?”

“The state of their heart, the good or evil within draws them. Those that love me fly to My arms as you did, they revel in My love and presence.”

“But what about those that never even heard, that lived their lives in darkness?” The question escaped, Alex’s question, I couldn’t withhold it.

“I made a place for them.”

I saw a cavern deep in the earth, womb like, warm and comforting, pervaded with a soft red glow, where many slept curled in fetal position.

“I spent three days and nights in the bowels of the earth, and My presence remains for these.” The voice pervaded my vision. “It’s paradise. Not heaven, but a reflection of it. They walk in dreams, in healing. These never saw the light, not so much as a glimmer, – My presence would overwhelm them.”

“They lie here cuddled together father and mother, wife and child, families of ancient lands. I’d never cast them out, though they have worshiped strange idols. They are borne here to this soft, warm, womb where together they dream. This is not Hell or Hades, I wouldn’t send these ones there, but they’re not ready for heaven, not even the river, so they rest here awaiting My coming, bound in the depths of the earth, but not in a bad place. In their dreams the light intrudes, they remember forests of bamboo, hills, and mountains, flowers and trees. Through nature I gently lead them from the darkness.”

Music plays, soft, serene like the sounds of nature, lulling them in pleasant sleep.

“When they awake it will seem they slept a short time, but millennium shall have passed. The human mind is a fragile thing. They need to shed the cloaks of darkness, the fear, till one day I can lead them into the light and this time will feel but a dream for them.”

“Even the fires of hell are cleansing. It depends on the depth the sin has reached – fire cleanses all. My coming can be all these things, the touch of My spirit to those drenched in evil it is as a consuming fire, to those in darkness a comforting womb of earth that shelters and protects. To some a cleansing flow of water and to those fortunate enough to have come to Me the wind of freedom and desire. It’s all love, My love for My creation. Sometimes My presence can cause pain as with those drenched in evil, but I love them also and will not abandon them. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’m not some callous God watching over an experiment.

They choose where they go. Some run to the light, others shade their eyes and some, yes some, are consumed by it, like one who, drenched in gasoline, comes in contact with a flame, the flame of truth, and it burns and consumes them. But even for these there is hope, redemption. I would that none perish.”

I stood in awe overwhelmed by the love of God. I saw it now. It is not God that separates Himself from us, but we from him. Alex was forgotten in my thirst to understand.

“You spoke of water, a river?” God smiled and Heaven glowed.

“You wish to see it? Your heart may tarry there a while…”

An angel came, summoned by His hand, raw power and love emanating from its countenance. The angelic being took my hand and we were transported to a rivers edge, pale, translucent water gleaming with light.

“Come.” The angel directed.

As our feet entered the waters things of earth began floating away. Longing to immerse myself I rushed into its embrace finding no need to hold my breath. A soothing melody flowing from the depths enraptured me, but as I opened my eyes in abandon I realized the river was full of floating forms.

Startled I stood up looking questioningly at the angel.

“They sleep,” he explained. “their hurts and pain are slowly washed away. Come.”

We entered in a little more and I saw a body sleeping near the surface, face barely submerged. It was Alex.

“Some plunge within, like lepers seeking cleansing,” the angel  said, “for these it is faster, but he resists, he has yet to enter deeply. You can lie beside him and dream a while with him if you want. It would help him. There are others too…” I understood.

I sank into the gentle waves beside Alex. “Hello old friend,” I said.

A matter of perception. (flash fiction)

Standard

insurance

Steve had often told him he should’ve paid into some kind of pension plan, have bought property, made provision. His executive son was embarrassed by him and rarely invited him to his barbeques and house parties. John was always clean and tidy but his clothes were not name brand and he had no conception of style. He lived alone on his pension in his little council flat his past deeds mostly forgotten, his wife long ago moved on to the arms of a better provider.

John had never really considered he’d live this long. He’d seen too much death and suffering to expect it. He stroked Felix’s ears, his only companion now his legs had given out. Felix rubbed his body against his arm purring softly in utter contentment. John had a way with folks, cats too, they appreciated his gentle, caring nature. Long ago John had worked in troubled areas, a volunteer helping hand out food and supplies but adding something all his own, a calm and confidence that went far beyond filling an empty belly.

He looked fondly at the photos adorning the old dresser the sea of smiling black faces where he’d once belonged, before his son’s insistence that he return to the UK, before his legs gave out. Perhaps he should have stayed there, have lived out his life among those he loved and who loved him, but you can’t use a walking frame in the African bush, he’d just be a burden, that’s why he’d come back. Now his days seemed empty, he wasn’t used to not being of service.

He went to make a cup of tea, Felix following. It happened just as he was pouring the kettle. Felix had to spring aside to avoid the scalding water, but John never felt it, the pain shooting down his arm and through his chest was far too intense.

It was next day when Felix’s plaintive mewing alerted a neighbor that something was wrong. Steve was horrified. Why hadn’t dad gone into the nursing home he’d suggested, didn’t want his charity, stubborn to the end…

“It wouldn’t have made a difference,” the doctor later told him, “He had a massive strove, must have died in seconds, better that way he didn’t suffer.”

“Didn’t suffer,” Steve thought angrily. What kind of life had dad had, he was glad he’d gotten out when he could, made something of himself. A slight pang of guilt touched his heart. He could have done more, could have been there for him, but dad was always a bit of an embarrassment, didn’t fit in so well with his Tory friends. None the less he’d loved him and it was with teary eyes that he ordered the best teak wood coffin for his earthly remains topping up his meager insurance claim with extra cash. Dad had never wanted a fancy funeral but he got one.

John meanwhile looked down at his son. They hadn’t always seen eye to eye, but it was clear Steve loved him. He’d take care of him when he came. Steve didn’t have much of an insurance policy after all. He’d be lucky to get a shack up here, but that didn’t matter John had plenty of space now and his legs once more cooperated, he’d build a special house where Steve and family could stay in the grounds. They wouldn’t be comfortable with all the African refugees crowding his mansion, but perhaps they’d come to a barbecue …