The Gift of Life

Su Maya—04/2005
Joe Bageant takes a look at the life-threatening Christian fundamentalism infecting tens of millions of Americans, the same fundamentalism that elects neocon governments.

IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS, a lot has been said about life, death and the transition of souls. We witnessed the passing of one of the greatest Popes, and the legacy of love he left behind. We watched as waves of communion moved across the Earth as a song in the hearts of millions of followers. Cultures and religions came together to honor what they felt is beholden as the deepest of truths.

Many significant public figures made their way to the other side in the course of history but not as dramatically televised. A few souls that didn't plan to be the center of strife and controversy, have also made a deep impact on the world scene.

With these dynamic energies still swirling some of us are moved to tears, others are moved to criticize and condemn. What we do with this knowledge now is of paramount importance.

Whether you believe in reincarnation or a single lifetime, we can all agree that life is a most precious gift. The most precious gift of all. We have been given a short time to enjoy and learn from our daily physical experience, and to love as much as possible.

So it saddens me to see so many people using their lives up gossiping, keeping a draining job, trafficking the kids around in motor pools, adding to the hyperkinetic stream of activities. They lose days, months and years of time and energy in the myriad details, Then one day a relative or friend gets seriously ill or has a sudden accident, and all perspective is rearranged.

It happened to me this week, I almost lost my sister. Everything I thought was more immediate suddenly fell to the background. Nothing else mattered except bringing her back, to have one more chance to say I'm sorry for my faults, to sit close and feel each other's presence, to know she was in the other room breathing the same air.

When it happens you are shocked to realize how little you have really lived, how often you turned away from your child or beautiful pet, to do something else, never thinking that it could have been the last moment they would have to be with you.

Your most vivid memory could be that final word spoken, and what was it you said? Was it scolding them for spilling something on the floor? Was it 'get in the car already'?

How important is this to think about? If you are reading this right now you are probably already called to the intention of my words, to express this love at every point in your waking life, because it could be the last time you have to do so.

Don't wait until your friend is sick in the hospital to show them you care. Every moment is the last chance to say it, to feel it. Life is so fragile and our time on the planet could be over sooner than you think.

The retirement plan can wait, mowing the lawn can wait, the developers meeting can wait, the shopping malls can wait. Think about how much have you already invested in their priorities. Probably too much. Begin to set limits on the demands of peripheral distractions, not by being late to appointments but by clearing away those connections which do not fit with a Higher Order.

It is a fundamental truth that we are here temporarily and no predictions about your future are better than this: the last breath of your love is all that really matters.

Don't hold it, don't stuff it in the back closet with old photos. You cannot take them with you. Open your heart, not to your desire for material goods, but to the cavern of your Soul. Then open your Soul to the infinite possibility of being connected to the whole of Creation.

Now, taking it to the next level, you know I am sending you Universal Love. I must make it clear that by love, I do not mean focusing just on close relationships and family members, and definitely not stalking any one person relentlessly. If you have that much love in you, spread it around…

Love every animal, every flower, plant, bird, every vision of the sky, and the changing clouds. Love the ancestors of our ancestors who lived here and the footprints they left behind. Love all future generations too. Love your teachers, the ones that admired your skills and the ones that caused you to think and act appropriately.

Even your enemies should be thanked, for as the Buddhists say, they keep you practicing patience and give you opportunities to burn off karma. Remember the times you trespassed against others and forgive those who trespassed against you, then you will be free of them.

Spread your love around to the infinite mysteries that are mirrored in the arts of music, poetry and paint, the sciences that deliver methods and as far as the stars in our galaxies. Go as far in your vision of the Beloved as the distant and unknown galaxies yet to be discovered.

There are important questions about death. Death is not just a reading of biological functions, that is only one measure. You die every time you yell at your spouse. You die every time you kill consciousness by getting drunk. You die a little each time you compromise your integrity.

You may be an full blown killer if you participate in any form of animal cruelty in labs or on lands, or if you destroy thousands of acres of forest because the company says so. It's your choice every time.

Leave the killing fields, do not support them and you will be redeemed. Say yes to life and give back by planting in those barren fields again.

If you are still eating cows and chickens, you should be eternally grateful to each one, at every meal, because they gave their life for you. People are not better than they are. Not if they never sacrificed their whole self to give life to another. And if you are still reading this, you have not. Could you consider such a raw deal of your own children? A sacrifice of any life is immense.

Do you hope for an afterlife? Does it even exist? Here is my view and the view of many spiritual guides:

Your love lives on by expressing it. Every moment of love is alive here and in the hereafter, as a multi-dimensional portal. It is the breath of God in you that lives on Who lent you a tiny spark of His Great Light. Ponder the magnitude of such a gift.

In the end, when every question and answer is fulfilled by God, all that will be left behind on the day of your rising from the grave will be; how much, how far and wide did you really love His children?