Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Colour of Joy

As I was walking outside this morning, I passed by a tall patch of grass being gently lit by the rising sun. It was shaded a dusty pink, and framed by frost-covered dark green blackberry leaves. The striking, contrasting colours touched my spirit and I found myself thinking of the ephemeral beauty of this world.

It may seem odd to make that connection, but last night I learned that my uncle had passed away, and so my thoughts went in that direction.

I remember when, a few years ago, my friend Mary was dying and we would sit and talk with her. During her life she had often expressed the desire to go to Ireland. But when she was dying, and someone asked her about this dream of hers, she said, "Why would I even look at the mud when the glorious worlds of God are waiting?"

That is what I thought about this morning.

Baha'u'llah says, "The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother."

I have often wondered about this statement, and have come to a few thoughts about it. I'm sure I've shared them here before, but it seems timely to share them again, so please forgive me. When a child is in the womb, they can hear sounds, but they're all muffled. And perhaps they can see a bit of light, sort of like if you were to shine a flashlight through your hand or cheek. While these sounds and sights may be intriguing to the foetus, how can they ever hope to compare to the majesty of a symphony or the beauty of a sunrise? Even more, how could you hope to explain the latter to that child when you only have the former to compare?

In the Writings, and especially those compiled in the book Life, Death and Immortality, there are many descriptions of the nature of the soul and how it moves beyond this world.

Baha'u'llah describes its state in the following words: And now concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God, His sovereignty, His dominion and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty. The movement of My Pen is stilled when it attempteth to befittingly describe the loftiness and glory of so exalted a station. The honor with which the Hand of Mercy will invest the soul is such as no tongue can adequately reveal, nor any other earthly agency describe. Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world.

Abdu'l-Baha also says, "...a love that one may have entertained for any one will not be forgotten in the world of the Kingdom. Likewise, thou wilt not forget (there) the life that thou hast had in the material world."

Elsewhere in the Writings, it is alluded that the feelings we feel in this world are as muffled as those sounds were in the womb. It's not that we don't feel them, nor should we stop treasuring them in this life, but just that those positive emotions that we experience here will be so much more heightened in the next world. The love we feel for someone here will be that much greater in the next world, especially as we begin to commune with their spirit unimpeded by the physical shell.

My uncle suffered from Alzheimer's disease in his last days, and I remember when his mother, my grandmother, also suffered from the same condition. Now, when I look back on it, it seems to me that this is yet another way that the soul begins to move away from this world. We already know that as we age, it is only natural that we become less and less attached to this material shell of ours, for it is slowly breaking down. If we look with spiritual eyes, we begin to look forward to our spiritual body, which is free from these impediments.

So what is it that we have to look forward to?

I really have no idea. But I do remember reading one author who spoke of these heightened senses of emotion and spiritual awareness, and that touched me. I really liked the idea of the joy and love that I feel in this world being heightened to such a degree that I can no longer fathom them. I resonated with the thought that these attributes would become so visible that my every pleasure here on this earth would seem but a torture.

And the way that I have come to understand it, for myself, is that my senses will be so changed, my perceptions so new, that every emotion, every virtue would be as a symphony to my now-foetal senses.

This morning I found that pink-tinged grass particularly beautiful. In the next world, perhaps I will cherish the colour of joy.

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you for this uplifting post, Mead. It came at the perfect time.