Earlier today, I was in a rich conversation about life after death. It was appropriate as the Catholic Church celebrates on this day the feast of All Souls.
I must admit that explaining my understanding of death, and what follows, is humbling. My articulation fumbles and I simply struggle to make sense at times, despite my deep trust in that there is life after death.
The only fact I truly know about death is that we all inevitably will die. We cannot avoid this one.
This, if I allow it, can scare me to death (not literally).
What comes next is a mystery.
I find peace not in the images or depictions of the afterlife in art and film. Even scriptural metaphors are hit or miss.
What helps are those glimpses of heaven on earth.
It happened for me when I was overwhelmed with peace by the remains of St. Francis. I felt it the first time I ministered to a grieving student. And I felt it when my wife and I were married, and many days with her, before and after the sacrament.
Last year, I felt it when my daughter stopped crying after she heard my voice for the first time (outside of the womb). I have felt it countless times with every smile and glance from this little face of God.
These moments reveal something more to me, something greater. They reveal God’s love.
I also believe that heaven isn’t out there somewhere. Heaven is inside of us, in our soul. Made in God’s image, we all return to our creator as we all come from this source.
It is not inside of us in the physical sense, like our lungs and heart.
It is an energy that is deep within us. It is our soul.
Our soul is connected to this God that formed us. When our physical body ends, our soul returns.
What this looks like, or how it works, is a mystery. But in the glimpses of heaven, when I was moved to tears or inspiration, I understood.
In this mystery, within the confusion, I understand.