Thursday, 14 November 2013

What it is to be human

When my father died I had an acute sense of loss. The time passed and in the last year, my father has 'visited' me three of four times. He was still present in the atmosphere, still very concerned for me.

I needed to make a trip to say goodbye to my dying mother and when I was there in a place that was no longer familiar to me, my father was still aware that I needed help. He remained present and guided me to a valuable encounter that was specific to the trauma of my family that had fallen apart due to squabbling over a will.

When I returned home from seeing my mother, I had a dream and in it my father no longer recognised me. It was only a few days later that I realised it had been exactly seven years since his death. By appearing as a stranger to me in a dream, my father was telling me that that he was never to return to me ever again. From now on I would never feel a presence near me. My father had gone for good and to a place from which there would be no earthly connection.

When we speak of "Heaven" in Christianity, we imagine a place of peace and joy where sadness is banished. In my life I have known tremendous suffering and I now realise that the human condition is one where we must suffer in order to understand. I am a better writer for knowing what sadness is, what humans are capable of doing to each other. Had I not delved into the pit of despair, I would not have been able to marvel at what good there is in this world.

The irony in life is that the Heaven we seek to find begins before we reach this earth. My father was a good and loving man. He was honest and loyal to his job and his family. He was kind. Where he has gone is a type of infinite peace. Not all of us are destined to end up there.

Photo copyright SvD.

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