For Easter I dug out one of my prayer candles from out of the office closet and lit it this past Saturday, then placed it under the table in the prayer grove. It looks nice there, glowing amidst all the bougainvillea flowers that have fallen off the bushes in the past couple of days.
Death and resurrection, I guess that’s what it’s all about.
I titled the post in the hope of the Resurrection rather than in the faith of the Resurrection. I think that’s a more accurate statement of where my spiritual situation stands at this juncture in my life. I was thinking about it on Sunday and realize that outside of my mom’s funeral service last year I haven’t been to church for the better part of four years. And it really didn’t bother me. I still think about religion, and God, and the Church a lot, but what I believe is a whole different thing.
A large part of me has come to believe that we who are privileged to live here in the US of A, with the freedoms we take so much for granted, our supermarkets full of the bounty of God’s creation, plentiful clean water to drink and food to eat, a governing system that, while far from perfect, is hands above just about any other on this planet, and everything else we tend to take for granted: well, perhaps this is what heaven is. We’re not enslaved by totalitarian regimes, the majority of our people don’t live amidst garbage and filth and poverty beyond anything we can imagine like folks do in large swaths of Africa and Asia. For all bitching and complaining we do, to be alive here in the USA of the early 21st century is where it’s at. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than this, is what I’m saying.
What happens after we die? Well, I’m not going to worry about it. When my time comes I’ll deal with it then and let God, whomever He, She, or It is, handle things from there. I like to live in the present: I find thinking about the past makes me feel melancholy and a bit lost – not because of what I have or haven’t done, or under achieved or over achieved in, it’s just those I’ve loved and everything I knew as I’ve grown to this age is increasingly lost to the passage of time. I look at my life and have very few regrets about anything I’ve done, decisions I’ve made or things I should have done differently, and can only ask how do I know whether I would have come out of them better or worse than I am now? You can’t dwell on that kind of shit – it’ll eat you alive.
So I focus on the present: the things I need to do at work, the quiet joys of relaxing on my back porch, the golf clubs left to complete my set, the books I’m reading, the tasks of everyday life at hand. As far as the future is concerned, Tracey and I have done as much as we can to plan and prepare for our retirements (mine coming much sooner than hers!), so it’s just prepare just in case you live long enough to experience it. I know things will change, some for the better, perhaps, most surely for the worse. But you can’t fixate and worry about it: life has its own way of coming at you just like it always has. Life is fleeting. Joy and anguish equally so. You deal with the cards you’ve been dealt and deal with it as best you can.
Which is why a candle burning in a little secluded prayer grove may seem a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, yet perhaps it means so much as well. It’s a gesture that recognizes there are much bigger and smaller forces out there that we simply can’t comprehend. And that, in the end everything comes down to death and renewal. It may not be resurrection in the most Christian of terms, but it’s a symbol of how tenuous our holds are on our own little existences that mean even more little in the long run. It’s my own little reminder of just how fragile life is, and how important it is to live every day to its fullest, ever mindful that my life, just like that candle’s in the prayer grove, and just like all those fallen flowers that were once so full of life and color, has its limits.