Images of the Afterlife

I don’t care whether there is life after death.  That may seem odd, but I tend to be a contrarian with regard to my own feelings, a habit since childhood.  So I do not live a roller-coaster of hopes and fears.  My emotions are like the plains of Kansas, so flat water doesn’t know which way to run.  That includes the afterlife.  Still, as long as I had God on the line, it seemed like something I should ask about.

I was reprimanded for asking.  I was told that I didn’t really want to know, I was asking merely because I thought I should, and I should figure out why I didn’t want to know.

At first, I had no idea, but then it came to me.  As I pictured the afterlife, it was boring and lonely, like driving all night on one of those long western highways.

Then I was given a series of images—more accurate ways to picture the afterlife.  The first was to become immersed in wonders of nature of incomparable beauty.  The second was to imagine being an Einstein whose mind now grasped fully all the vast mysteries of the universe, having the ultimate “Aha!” experience over and over again.  Another was listening with full intensity to music more lovely than any the world has ever known.  Or, finally, it was like being in love, but with a vaster compass, sustained over endless time, and receiving boundless love in return.

“With life, spirit comes into play.”

For millions of years, before there was life, there was just God and a barren universe.

“You felt all alone?”

Yes, I wanted more. In retrospect, the inanimate years feel very lonely.  The emergence of life is a delight.  With life, spirit comes into play.  Wonderful to see amoeba, moss, and so forth.  The frogs (and other creatures), each with a soul and personality, each in a sense in tune with God.  I can play with the animals, “walk among them.”  I love their myriad formsI am not alone anymore.

The creatures that began to stir on the earth are amazing, more amazing than anything that had yet occurred in creation.  They move on their own, they have “internal principles of motion” as Aristotle said, have dramatic lives—even the worms and fishes.

There is birth, growth, death, mating, offspring, colonies and flocks, emergent social orders—ideality as well.  There is telos and purpose, success and failure, standards of perfection and imperfection.

And, over time, further developments in the species, a most amazing, creative ramifying of the evolutionary ladder.  New species emerge that could not have been imagined before.  Your paleontology tells the story:  the first horses could easily fit into the palm of a hand, and so forth.  Can you imagine the spectacle?

“Yes, I think I can.”