Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Living forever on earth - a heaven or the other place

Living forever on earth is something which has occurred to each of us, I'm sure, especially as we grow older. And death not being particularly appealing, the idea of not having to face it, seems at first, a rather pleasant one.

It has been the subject of several movies, one of which is called "Tuck Everlasting". I don't remember much about this movie except that a girl whom our hero (who is living forever on earth after drinking from a spring) has fallen in love with , chooses to _not_ drink from the Spring because she decides she doesn't want to live forever. At least not on earth. I believe Tuck moves on... he's seen many live and die - no big deal.

In searching the web, the subject is discussed a lot but no one reaches any conclusion about whether this would be a good idea or not.

Perhaps one of the most memorable treatments of the subject was a TV show wherein a magic man gives the elderly in a nursing home (none of whom are suffering from the usual maladies like osteoporosis, alzheimers, or blindness) the chance to be kids again. All of them jump, at first, at the idea of moving without pain and having their whole lives ahead of them. But one by one, as they think about it and even experience being young, they decide against it. One lady says that she does not want to be young again without the love of her life at her side. Another person says he would not want to live through his life again. In the end, all the elderly go back to being elderly and only one individual remains a youth - he joyfully bid his littermates farewell and goes bounding through an open window into the night, headed for a lifetime of new adventures. I (probably like many other viewers) reached no conclusion about whether I would like to be the one who remains a youth or whether I would go back to being old and arthritic. Perhaps that was because I was reasonably young when I first watched this show.

Truth is, we all have a desire to live forever but most of us, especially as we grow older, get to feeling that perhaps living forever would not be real fun, if we remained earthbound.

The movie "Cocoon" and its sequel attempts to solve the dilemma without annoying anyone by mentioning the unmentionable (God, Heaven). It pictures a group of elderly going to "another place" which is pictured like a PERFECT earth where there is no sickness and pain. Heaven as Christians think of it, is strongly hinted at. Especially poignant in "Cocoon: The Return" was the separation of one grandpa from his grandson. Grandson was temporarily happy when his Grandpa returned but very sad when Grandpa leaves the earth forever.

Being 63 years old and having lost, first my best friend, 5 years ago (whom I still miss - she died of cancer) and recently having lost my Spiritual Advisor, a Jesuit priest who just turned 80 last year, I am beginning to formulate MY answer to this dilemma. I feel it would only be fun living forever if one could be with those one loves. For it seems that Heaven begins with being with our loved ones and goes from there.

And perhaps this lonely feeling we get when friends start being called Home, is planned by God to help us get over the fear of the great unknown, the sheer terror of the crossing over from earth to beyond. As time moves on, we think more and more about that place or state of being about which the Bible tells us "earth has not seen nor man has not known of the glories God has planned for those who love Him".

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