Saturday, October 23, 2010

True Colors

Thursday was the perfect autumn day here in Colorado. Light white cotton candy clouds melted into the blue sky and a plethora of colors quivered on the trees. At one point, I was driving along a parkway lined with trees while a slight breeze made its way through my open windows. Leaves scattered down around my car and to the ground only to be whipped up again by other cars. The cascading colors of falling leaves was truly elegant. It was a God given moment.

It reminded me of my fourth grader recently telling me about chlorophyll and its purpose. “Chlorophyll is the green stuff inside the leaf,” she said.

I found a more scientific answer at Wikipedia, “Chlorophyll plays a crucial role in producing food for the plant by synthesizing simple sugars from Sunlight + Carbon Dioxide + Water in the process of photosynthesis. The by-product of photosynthesis is Oxygen.”

The shorter autumn days and the cooler temperatures tell the trees that it’s time to sleep for the winter. They begin shutting down their photosynthesis factories—the chlorophyll in the leaves. That green matter dissipates leaving the pigments that were present all along in the leaves, the gold and oranges. The gorgeous red pigments we see are usually present in trees that store a good deal of glucose, like Maple trees. The cooler temperature of the nights combined with the glucose left in the leaves causes the red pigment to come bursting forth.

I am reminded of our human condition. Most times we keep ourselves at a steady even keel. Our emotions are in check and we have our chlorophyll walls securely in place. But when life’s weather changes and we are thrown into the cooler times, our walls, much like the chlorophyll dissipate. Our defenses down, the pigments that are left are our own true selves. We each respond differently to the oncoming changes of our lives. Some of us turn yellow, showing our bright sunny selves, not afraid to be brash and take on the obstacles before us. Some of us have lots of sugar stored up from the good times of summer. We use this sugar to make ourselves burst forth, smiling through the rough times. But sometimes we become the dry, cracked brown color and we allow the tough times of life to wither us to our emotional and spiritual death.

Autumn is a good time for me to remember this life lesson. It is up to me to use the good times of my life, when I am full of green chlorophyll, to fill me up with the sugars of life. So when the cooler times come and turn into the cold of winter I have stored sugar to reveal the vibrant soul of who I am.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Great Chasm

“Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.” Luke 16:26, NAB

I love this verse from Luke 16 because it so clearly reveals the concept of that we live in a multi-dimensional world and that there is an existence beyond what we can see.

In previous posts, I’ve talked about multiple dimensions and that we as humans are stuck in the third dimension. As I’ve shared in the past, I believe we are really four dimensional, with our souls and consciences longing for what’s beyond, but our bodies stuck in this third dimension.

Luke 16:19-31 tells the story of Lazarus (the only parable Jesus told that included the actual name of a character), a poor beggar who died and went to Heaven, and his rich counterpart who ended up in Hell.

What is interesting is that Jesus uses this parable to describe Heaven and Hell. Jesus always used real aspects of nature to tell his stories including a mustard seed, vineyards, and the comparison of rock and sand. He is painting a picture for us not unlike his other parables. So it’s extremely plausible that this story reveals the concepts of the afterlife.

What I find most interesting is that Jesus clearly states that though the two places are separated from each other, they can still be seen by each. Those in Hell can still see Heaven and vice versa. They are separated by a great chasm.

There is something more profound in this parable as well. Jesus clearly explains to us that we have the choice between Heaven and Hell. We have free will and that even in the latest hour of our lives, we can choose God.

I have a friend, Jean, who was recently telling me of the loss of her mother. Though it’s been a year, she still feels the pain and emptiness of that loss. However, she knows that because of the choices and faith her mother maintained that she now enjoys a life free of pain and suffering. Isn’t that what we all want for our loved ones…and for ourselves? She described how she feels as the following, “Great sorrow can exist with great joy.” She misses her mother greatly, but would not want her to come back to this life.

I think we all experience great sorrow and great joy, but our ability to experience both simultaneously is a God thing. It’s something that we can experience in our three dimensional bodies, but can pierce the chasm of this dimension and reach toward Heaven. The most amazing thing is when we reach out God also breaks through and returns those emotions with peace. As my friend also said, “When sorrow and joy are harmonious—that can only be God.” What a profound statement.

People often talk about a “final test” at the end of our lives. I recently heard a homily where the pastor gave a simple standard for that final test.

1. How did you love?
2. How did you serve others?
3. How much did you rely on God?

To me, these simple questions sum it up well.

Choice comes into play every day and I believe that through our choices we pay it forward in this dimension and the others.

Next time I’ll examine those three questions with respect to how we impact the dimensions around us. Once we scrutinized that concept, we’ll wrap it up neatly with the idea that these three questions also impact the earth we inhabit and hopefully come full circle from where we started.

In the meantime, if you like, read my earlier posts on dimensions as a primer for next week’s discussion. Feel free to pummel me with questions to keep me on track!