Last night I found out that June, my great aunt (the sister of grandmother, who passed away two years ago…the one i talked about at the sisterhood) is in the hospital and has about a day left. I was really close to her. I even have her name— my middle name (McCarty) is her last name. June has gone through so much, including losing her husband a long time ago, and has been able to maintain this wonderful optimism and has such a bright view of the world. I stayed with her a lot when I was younger. Her dog, a Westie named Billy, was like my best friend when I was 10. I went and stayed with her on my way up to DC this Thanksgiving (she lives in Richmond) and despite that she can’t hear very well and she was having to go to dialysis every other day and was taking dozens of pills, her eyes still shined so brightly and her spirits were still so high. I could talk to her about anything. My dad always said that whenever I went to see her, it was all she would talk about with everyone for about a year. I admire her so much and this is really hard on me and my family.
Yesterday, I talked to my Aunt who flew in from Washington State to be there with June and she said, “When I got here, I told June ‘I’m so sorry you’re in the hospital,’ and all June replied was ‘these are the nicest nurses I’ve ever met!’” That’s just a little snapshot of who she is. On the phone, my Aunt and June’s daughter Marietta said that, like always, she was making the best of everything—cracking jokes all the time. Her perspective on the world is so inspiring. Last night she was enjoying chocolate ice cream, which she hadn’t been able to eat for so long because of her dialysis. It’s the simple joys in life, right? So she’s in a good place surrounded by good people and so so loved, but…this is still just so hard.
Anyway, if you could please keep my family in your prayers, that would be incredible.
I do not believe in “heaven versus hell.” I think that the after-life as a “reward” system is something completely human and whatever higher power there is (for this post I’ll just refer to this being as God and refer to God as She) exists on a much higher level than that. I don’t think that “heaven” is a place, as it is commonly interpreted. This question is going to take a lot of explaining that will take you through a lot of my beliefs on God, so bare with me.
I believe that we were all made in God’s love and that, by giving us Life, She promised us Her Unconditional Love. The Love She has for every person far exceeds anything we have ever—or can ever—experience. She would not “damn” someone for any reason, whatsoever.
Aristotle believed in a “Final Cause,” in which we would be united with what he referred to as the Unmoveable Mover. Here, we would experience pure and complete Happiness. Aristotle defined Happiness as something completely different than what society expresses. His concept of happiness is not subjective (so, pleasure is not happiness), but rather objective in that we are only truly happy when we experience eudemonia, or “soul-flourishing,” which occurs when one acts virtuously and engages in actions that bring one in the right relationship with others and the Unmoveable Mover. Eudemonia also brings us closer to the Unmoveable Mover, while its antonym sets us back. To determine whether or not an action is virtuous, Aristotle employed the “Doctrine of the Mean,” which invites us to stray from extremes. For example, one must neither lack confidence nor be overconfident, but rather one must find a centered place in between. (Fun fact, St. Thomas Aquinas agreed with Aristotle, however he viewed the Unmoveable Mover as the Christian God.)
I also agree. I believe that we are all set in motion to eventually be reunited with God, and we are to use our time on Earth to find ways to bring us closer to Her. However, I think we do this by putting ourselves in the right relationship with ourselves and this is our only way to truly connect with God, because we are connecting with the one thing She gave us to have for our entire Lives and therefore we should value it the most, never taking it for granted. This includes Our Body, Our Mind and Our Soul. Going along with Aristotle’s teaching, I think that the only way to be in a right relationship with ourselves is to be in right relationship with other people and following something like the Doctrine of the Mean. The theory I use, however is much simpler than Aristotle’s Doctrine.
I use my own Theory of Love. I believe that, if we are acting through pure Love, we have found the Mean and this action will put us in a right relationship with ourselves and those around us. Similarly, I think that God is this theory. I believe that God is synonymous with Love. And, as a result, God cannot act in any way but Love. Therefore, God would never damn us or desire not to have a relationship with us. She wants to bring us back to Her at the end of our Lives, healing every wound Life gave us, and Forgiving every Earthly mistake we’ve made—Embracing us and filling us up entirely with Her Love. She knows we are more than these Earthly things because She is more and created us as more. But this world is hard and it has many undertones of hate that are easy to get swept up in. She knows this, She understands this and, as a result, I don’t think She punishes us for this. She knows we are more, however, and She Loves us so She wants us to be the best person we can possibly be.
This said, a lot of people view the lack of a belief in “hell” as a reason to do whatever you want. However, I completely disagree. It’s all about intentions. I don’t think someone should decide to do something because “this will prevent me from hell and send me to heaven!” That is so selfish, so solely about personal gain. God doesn’t operate on such a human level. We should do the “right” thing, because that’s who we are, that’s what we want to do—for no ulterior motives. This is what brings us closer to our True Selves and, as a result, closer to God.
I would like to clarify something in regards to my view on God. I don’t see God as a person. Or a force. Or a feeling. Or anything we have a word for. I think God is above language in that She cannot be described in Language. She is not something the human Mind can ever truly and fully comprehend. I think that every Religion grasps an incredibly small segment of who or what God is. All Religions hold up different images, teachers, social teachings… but despite all this differences, there is one unifying concept- Love. This is the only word that has come close to grasping God so far. I don’t assign myself to one group of organized Religion. Rather, I’ve grasped onto this one word and am slowly but surely building my personal beliefs around it. I incorporate the concepts and ideas of different philosophers and religious leaders, but I feel that the Soul God gave me should stay the center of my Spirituality. As I’ve been learning more and more about what this Spirituality is, I have come into such closer contact with my True Self— who I am and am meant to Be. It is a struggle, but I am trying to live my life in a way that every action matches up with these aforementioned beliefs that make up Who I Am. Bringing Actions together with Beliefs is unifying My Mind, Soul and Body so that every part of myself, everything I do, is one-hundred percent me. I make mistakes, but I think I am well on my way.
i was walking home and suddenly these two vicious wolves with blood-matted coats, huge fangs and distorted faces darted past me—growling and slobbering. they bounded into my house and tore things up and my grandfather was in the same room as me and one of them grabbed my grandfather’s arm and my dad couldn’t hear me yelling for him and another one went out on the back deck. i don’t know what happened after that i just know they left. i don’t know who died and who lived.
the next morning i wake up for school. i look out the window and realize that there are these cords connected to everyone’s cars, some cars are upside down, my dad’s as flattened and ont he roof right outside my window. I climbed out of the window onto my roof and went to look at the cars. They were all attached to each other and to trees so no one could leave.
I went back up to my house and it was unlocked, but I somehow knew that when I opened the door, some signal would go out and they would know. I locked and chained the door when I got inside in every way, but I knew it wouldn’t make a diference. I had some sort of encounter with my mom’s sister, my aunt, but I don’t remember what happened. Then I went up to this room next to mine where there were two beds (this room doesn’t actually exist in my house). My mom was sleeping in one bed and I woke her up. I immediately got under the other bed. I told her what was going on and watched the fear and pain well up in her eyes. We wondered if death was inevitable, but we couldn’t say that aloud. She knew, at this moment, that she would have to step into some serious responsibility here. She would have to protect, be a mom.
No one was brave enough to go check on my sister in her room in the basement.
I woke up.
open your eyes and observe everything. open your ears and listen to everyone. at night, listen to the silence. open your heart and leave it open. open your mind and think. then open your mouth and say what you will. - EJM.