Today my Father-in-law passed away from complications following surgery. I did not know him extremely well but I found him to be a thoughtful man deeply interested in his community, culture and the mysteries of this life. It is of one of these so called mysteries I wish to write about today.
Years ago I attended a seminar in which the presenter had the audience close their eyes and imagine they were floating in a vast empty space. He further instructed us to set aside the things we were carrying, to set aside the things in our pockets, to even discard the clothes we were wearing. Finally, he instructed us to discard our body. To simply unzip our body, step out of it, and send it away into the nothingness. In this imagined state, our mind holds on to the essence that is us. The essence which was left, that part of us which remained with all physical things removed, he instructed us, was our true selves. Somewhere in this little exercise I think lies the truth of our beginnings. A truth taught in Christian scripture.
I firmly believe that prior to our birth on this earth we were individual cognitive beings of a spiritual nature. We lived in a spiritual world in many ways much different than the one where we currently reside. Our birth on this earth is simply a leaving of that spiritual realm and a physical introduction to this one. Babies are not unintelligent. The new born are simply strangers to a different world where they are limited by a small, weak and growing body of which they know very little. They enter a world which is somewhat familiar spiritually but totally foreign physically. At some point in the process, our new physical nature takes over, we lose our spiritual awareness, and we temporarily forget the realm from which we came. This world enables us, the literal spiritual children of God, to begin to learn of the Father’s physical universe. The joining of our spiritual cognitive self, to this imperfect physical body, makes that possible.
And with this physical body we now learn both sorrow and joy.
Aristotle reasoned that the purpose of man is happiness. The scriptures tell us: “Man is that he might have joy.” Think for a minute of some of the things in this life which bring true peaceful joy. The quiet complementary colors as the sun slowly sets. The giddy sound of a child’s laughter. The taste and changing temperature of ice cream! The cool smell of the air right after a summer shower. The warmth, smell and taste of a babies neck as you snuggle a new grandchild. The five physical senses, usually in combination, bring us so much of the wondrous joy of this physical world. Even our closest relationships are anchored with taste, touch, sight, smell and sound.
Then we die.
By way of birth, comes death. As in the exercise, we set aside this mortal body but this time it is real, not imagined. Also real is the continuation of our cognitive essence, our spirit still lives. Once returned to our spiritual foundation, having lost our physical innocence, the universe must at once portend a mundane and bland existence! To be separated from a physical experience after having been awakened to it would seem onerous. How glorious then the proclamation that: “as in Adam all men die, so in Christ shall all men be made alive.” Or, in the words of Job, “though the skin worms destroy this body, yet in the flesh shall I see God!”
Herein lies a marvelous gift. Through Christ we shall all be resurrected. Reunited with our body in a perfected and eternal form, no longer to feel pain, or need glasses, or to be limited by physical defects. This body once old, worn and imperfect shall become the vessel through which the peaceful joy of the eternities become possible to us, the heirs of the Father.
This is not fantasy but the simple reality of true Christianity as taught in scripture.
The prophet Moroni’s last words: “And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead.”
My Father-in-law now rests with Moroni in the paradise of God where he waits, with those who have gone before, for that glorious day of reuniting. A reuniting with those left behind and, what must be, a deeply longed for reuniting with a physical body. This time however, we await an eternal body that will never again be set aside. A body of glory. A body immensely capable of acting and of experiencing joy.
On the other side of death,
Until then, I will miss him.
Samuel Waen Jensen