Worlds of imagination by Sara B. Gauldin
I have always been drawn to the looming truth of mortality. As I begin the transition from writing as a hobby to writing as a professional I have been doing some looking back. The theme seems to permeate my writing. I suppose part of reason is my early brush with death. I was fourteen the first time I looked death in the face and knew it for what it was. A simple mistake and a horrible car crash; there I sat bleeding to death in a ditch. I watched the others around me in a panic. But a sense of calm came over me. I knew in that moment that our mortal bodies are not meant to last. We are infinitely fragile beings who are destined to die.
I hear people mention people who are dying. They talk about the stress of knowing you are going to die. I cannot help but find it ironic that in truth we are all dying. We are but a flash in the pan in the grand scheme of time and space. The difference is that the people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness have been forced to recognize the fact. It bothers the onlooker who does not want to know that they too are dying. Yet even as they express the sentiment of pity their own mortality is certain.
That leads me to the next part of our discussion. Clearly cultures from all over our world have different beliefs about the afterlife. They run the gambit in imagery and reasoning. I have learned at least a little about most of them. There are common threads. Most cultures believe in at least one higher power. They believe that things happen in the universe and in the world with reason and intent. They believe that in some form or fashion the conscious part of humanity, the part that makes us who we are will go on. They also believe that there are a set of rules, moral guide lines to go by to ensure that this process will go smoothly. As far as I can tell the picture of what this means varies from individual to individual. It also seems to vary at different points in an individual’s life. I find that to be true for myself. My own sense of spirituality has changed over time and with life experiences. Knowledge and perspective changes the way we see things as children. Sometimes I find that I envy those that have the “faith of a child”. But other times I am glad to have tempered my understandings with doubts, questions, prayer and searching.
The element that keeps coming back to me more recently is the role of the dead in the world of the living. Most of us believe that our loved ones go on in an afterlife. It is difficult to quantitatively monitor their progress in the transcendent state. I think of this. I tend to look at what I can measure. A person’s influence lives on. I envision this using the metaphor of a child standing by a lake;
The child can see the shore and all that the sun bathes in light around him. He is happy to be in the sun, but the curiosity that is to him innate beckons him towards the water, that which is deep dark and unknown. Fear prevents the child form leaping into the depths without his parents as a source of safety. He spies a stone on the shore. The stone pre-exists the child’s awareness of it. It has lingered here undisturbed for an immeasurable length of time. Yet it existed. If he cannot probe this unknown depth but he can send this representative to the beyond. No one will miss a stone. The child picks up the stone and examines it. It fits into his hand in a comfortable manner. He draws back his hand and launches the stone into the air. As the stone arcs upwards towards the blue sky, it is free and moves toward the light. It would continue forever but the inevitable force of gravity acts upon it. The stone’s upward progress slows. It reaches the crux of the arch. It has met its fruition. The maximum it can achieve. The moment that it is in its prime is immeasurably minute. The stone now gives way to the downward pull. It approaches the water’s surface, gaining speed as it travels. The boy watches closely. He does not want to miss seeing what will become of his stone. The stone breaks the surface of the water. For an instant the boys believes he can see the stone sinking, but before he can think through the process fully the stone is out of his sight and a new phenomenon has captured his attention. A ripple extends form the point of the stones impact, although the stone itself has sunk from sight. The boy will never be able to recover the stone or behold it again. It is lost to him. The ripple the stone has left is all that remains to the boy. It is the only reminder that the stone truly existed that the boy can perceive. The ripple is a thing of beauty. Its silvery circles extend far out into the water. It is far more amazing to perceive than the stone itself had ever been. They silently move outward from the apex that once was the stone and continue their influence outward toward the boy and the deeper waters of the unknown. They alone are perceivable to the light and safety of the shore.
I believe that all of us are like the stone. We did not suddenly exist on this Earth. We existed in some form, be is spiritual, biological through DNA or in the form of the energy we use to exude life. We began our journey as a young person arching upward. We could only see the sun and not the inevitability of our fall. Truly we were going up; why would we think of stopping. We reach our inevitable crux and are pulled downward by the inevitability of our mortality. We reach our death and cross over into the unknown. We are unreachable by those we left behind, yet our ripple of influence remains as proof to the living that yes, we did exist and our influence in this world, our ripple lives on. It is up to us in our lives to ensure that our ripple is positive and not negative. We influence in some way all that is around us by our interactions. It is my hope that we all can pause and evaluate the type of ripple we are creating as we live.
Don’t miss Sara B. Gauldin’s amazing books! Click HERE!
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