Day 4: Immortality

“We were created to live on earth unlike animals who die and disappear with time, but with the high purpose to live with God not for a hundred years or so but for eternity”.

– St. Innocent of Alaska, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven: An Introduction to Christian Life

I’m feeling particularly human, particularly mortal today.

I’ve been suffering from this same virus for about 3 weeks. It started as a tickle in the throat and a general malaise. You know that feeling, right? that sneaking suspicion that a head cold is on the horizon?

All of my children suffered through it weeks ago. I really thought I was in the clear, pumping vitamin C and essential oils and resting and I thought I’d avoided it by the sheer will of force that I simply could not afford to get sick.

Until three weeks ago, when there was a little lull in my schedule. It’s almost as though my body knew it was safe to fall ill and so, it did. The virus has ebbed and flowed. Some days I feel better, some days I feel worse. Some days start out well and end badly, other days it starts badly and by the end of the day I feel as though I could lift a car off a man.

Suffice it to say that this day, I am tired and cold and coughing. I am achy and doubting and tunnel visioned and distracted. That I’m meant to talk about “immortality” as our blogging prompt today just makes me grumpy. Well, okay, I brought grumpy into the room with me on this one.

Even as I type this I have a kid home sick from school sitting next to me, cuddled up and watching something obnoxious on the iPad. I keep leaving the room to find quiet and he keeps finding me, cuddling up beside me. It’s not altogether terrible. He’s a good cuddler.

I am so very steeped in the “now” it’s hard for me to even make space to contemplate immortality, which I’ve come to think of as a sort of byproduct of “whatever happens after death.” Still, on the downward slope of my 40’s it seems I am thinking more and more about death, my own death or that of my spouse or my parents among others. But it’s not a long time contemplation, it comes in small moments, usually when I’m alone and not consumed by all the distractions of parenting and housework and the present ills in my body. Even with the present ills I am not thinking of eternity or immortality. I am thinking of recovery. When will it happen? How soon until I can sleep at night without Nyquil as my bed partner. All I can think about is becoming healthy again, becoming whole.

And it’s funny because in reality, I suppose that’s what the idea of immortality is all about. When will we be healthy again? When will we be whole?

I admit that I back away from that thought, harboring some weird idea that “there” cannot be better than “here.” All I can think when faced with whatever happens after death is trepidation, “What will I lose?” That, of course, is a function of my short lens focus these days. It is the disadvantage of being steeped in the “now.” I become attached to the “now” and afraid of the “not yet.” That’s a tough place to be for someone like me, who delights in practicing mindfulness as a method of reaching gratitude. There is some letting go that has to happen here, some recognition that in this life we are always in transition, that this life is somehow temporary and yet vital too.

So I’ll sit with my sick kid on the couch today and we’ll cough together and watch the sunlight move through the house as the iPad video drones on. We’ll talk a little bit about video games and maybe I’ll get some words on the page and I’ll remind myself with each of these acts that if we do it well, we’re building something even so,  something temporal with roots reaching into eternity.

2 comments:

  1. “We were created to live on earth unlike animals who die and disappear with time, but with the high purpose to live with God not for a hundred years or so but for eternity”.
    – St. Innocent of Alaska

    There is good reason to hope that when Christ returns at the Eschaton He will restore ALL of His creation, including the fauna as well as the flora.

    Animals have no guilt, and it’s very hard to me to class a faithful family dog that knows its own name and wants to be by the side of his master or mistress, with an insect or snake. Christ Himself indicated that every animal abides forever in the living memory of the Father (St. Luke 12:6).

    From him whose liturgy we serve:

    “That the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption.”

    – St. Paul to the Romans 8:21

    Now what is this creation? Not yourself alone, but that also which is your inferior, and partakes not of reason or sense, this too shall be a sharer in your blessings. For “it shall be freed,” he says, “from the bondage of corruption,” that is, it shall no longer be corruptible, but shall go along with the beauty given to your body; just as when this became corruptible, that became corruptible also; so now it is made incorruptible, that also shall follow it too.

    And to show this he proceeds “Into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” That is, because of their liberty. For as a nurse who is bringing up a king’s child, when he has come to his father’s power, does herself enjoy the good things along with him, thus also is the creation, he means.

    You see how in all respects man takes the lead, and that it is for his sake that all things are made. See how he solaces the struggler, and shows the unspeakable love of God toward man. For why, he would say, do you fret at your temptations? You are suffering for yourself, the creation for you. Nor does he solace only, but also shows what he says to be trustworthy. For if the creation which was made entirely for you is “in hope,” much more ought thou to be, through whom the creation is to come to the enjoyment of those good things.

    Thus men (3 manuscripts fathers) also when a son is to appear at his coming to a dignity, clothe even the servants with a brighter garment, to the glory of the son; so will God also clothe the creature with incorruption for the glorious liberty of the children. …

    -St. John Chrysostom: Homily 14 on Romans, chapter 8

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