Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Don't take life too seriously. No one gets out alive.

Where do we go when we die? Is there only a here, a hereafter, or heresy?

In my religion of raising, I was taught an elaborate outline of eternity. Don’t worry; I won’t go into the details and bring out all the flip-charts and what-not. It sufficeth me to say that I was taught of a continued existence, one of retained Earthly knowledge and experiences that will lead to rewards based on behavior -and potential for eventual godhood.

It’s a pretty awesome concept.

Problem is, you know… stuff like no evidence. I am a very logic-driven person where hormones are not involved. I agree with non-religious peoples that nothing after death makes a lot of sense. I agree that tests, wherein people die in order to tell a waiting group about life after death, are unsuccessful. I agree that bodies decompose and Egyptian pharaohs never took their gold with them to the afterlife and that most humans do not see dead people.

I’m just a little hung up on those who have had visions, on stories of people coming back from Death’s door, and on personal spiritual experiences.

Not all of those who exhibit faith are crazy. Many of my neighbors are level-headed and intelligent. They pray, and speak about knowing that life after death is true.

For me, my most major of quandaries is how special human beings are. We are inventive, able to learn, intelligent (overall), social, observant, dynamic, versatile, etc. Most of all, we are self-aware. am self-aware.

I just can’t get around the idea of absolute non-existence after dying because of my logical sentience.

Wishful thinking? I hope not. I hope this life is not all there is because that is a very limited time, indeed.

What about someone whose life really sucks? What about a guy born into ignorance and poverty, who lives as a slave his whole life and dies from tapeworm at age 15? What kind of existence was that?

Are we but dust in the wind? Or, do we contain the essence of eternity?

 

Whilst we ponder on this lightweight topic, I’ll post what I did for the past week:
Wednesday, November 28: Oh My Flippin’ Heck, thoughts and a query into how acceptable cussing in literature can be.
Thursday, November 29: Skinwalkers, XLIII
Friday, November 30: Winner of The Third Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest announced. Congratulations at last, Bruce.
Saturday, December 1: Beginning of The Fourth Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest (Post a poem!).
Also, The Festival of Trees, with Children, a boring account of a neat event (with pictures).
Sunday, December 2: The Black Hole Beyond, a flash fiction entry for Carrot Ranch Literary Community.
Monday, December 3: Wilhelmina Winters, Seventy-Four,
and The Children’s New Clothes over at my motherhood site. I had a lot of fun writing this one, though not as much fun sorting laundry.
Tuesday, December 4: Inspirational Quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Wednesday, December 5: This post.

The Black Hole Beyond

Ethereal stardust touched her; tickling, licking, tempting her forward. A thousand thousand glittering steps pulsed the way.

She stepped. And stepped.

One hesitant footfall at a time led her past an eternal tunnel of cosmic shimmering, but also to the edge of inevitable, gaping nothing. Here, there was no stardust, no glitter, no shimmer. Not even a chill, poetic wind whipped against her hesitant spirit, paused on the edge of infinity.

With no eyes to close, no throat to swallow, no resolve to strengthen; she stepped over the edge…

Looking back only once, at the discarded Earth-body far behind.

 

Based on the prompt from The Carrot Ranch Literary Community.

What Do I Believe?

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“If you go with the Calvinistic or traditional Christian notion, after Adam’s fall, everybody is totally depraved, and often virtues are just masked vices, and even a good deed done is grace. A personal relationship with God is the right thing… As far as people are concerned, yes, there are a few people who will stand by you, come what may, and they’re worth finding and keeping.”
-Nitin, Fighting the Dying Light

There are frequent times I am faced with a question I’d rather not answer. These queries all seem to fall beneath the subject of categorization.

How old are you?

Where do you live?

What are your political leanings?

What is your writing experience?

What do you believe?

For one so inclined to choose brutal honesty in conversation over tact, my hesitancy to answer these questions might seem odd. I also participate in an online community that may very well be read across the street -or, across the world. Why hold back on some issues?

I might choose to remain in obscurity. Who would care, really? However, many of the writers I follow have recently come out in declarations of belief. If I admire their honesty, surely others will not desert me based on what I admit.

So, what do I believe?

The truth is that I grew up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A few years ago, however, I read the very entertaining The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. If one ever needs his faith dissolved in a few peals of educated laughter, he is welcome to read it.

This is not to say that Dawkins is fully credited with my disillusionment and departure. His voice merely allowed for more enlightened means by which I might attain answers to forever-niggling doubts and concerns. I have since realized the human mind passes through many ‘ages;’ many changes of perspective. I believe that doubt and a removal from the faith of our upbringing happens to most, if not all.

As a child, I was very much susceptible to the explanations and teachings I was given by my parents and religious instructors. These ranged from paranormal to superstitious to wonderful. I trusted that the doubts I had would, as I was told, be resolved with time and faith.

My pre-teen years were spent in rigid conformity of a self-imposed nature. I was, in colloquial terms, a Molly Mormon. I was a Christian Girl, controlling my thoughts and feelings and emotions to the extreme. I exulted in my perfectionism and delighted in my absolute obedience.

That all changed around the teenage years of hormonal outbreak. This may all be tied into mental issues, but the pendulum of perfectionism swung a bit to the opposite side…

As I said, I’m a very honest person. At times I have thought to not attend church because of my personal feelings. I have prayed, consulted scriptures, and argued with a God who sometimes answers.

Most of the time, I withdraw.

I believe my decision to consider atheism may not have been the best, because it seems driven by a desire to self-protect. Others may read about God and conclude that He loves them and holds their life in His hands. I, instead, wonder at the birds He not only allowed to fall but also burned to death in the breath of His voice or the wrath of His hand.

I truly do wonder why bad things happen to good people, or to any people.

I have come back to faith, but from a wary distance. When I think of trusting The Almighty I often feel sick inside. He might take away those I love, remove my health, smite me blind, or cause any number of calamities. And I am expected to say, “Ah. It was God’s will.”

Where I stand on the faith spectrum is somewhere in-between.

Yes, I know that is the lukewarm place where adherents will be spewed out. Yet I also know it is where I am. A toe here or there causes me to shrink back protectively. The middle is the safest place.

Which may also answer a query regarding political leanings.

If one is to set my person on a judgment stand, to vote whether he may or may not listen to my thoughts and opinions, hear this: we are all of us human. It is human to doubt, to question, to make mistakes, and to act based on feelings. It is human to change; to hopefully grow.

My religious life may have its ups and downs, but I’ve come to some revelatory conclusions because of that path. And, as much as I tried to deny it, those conclusions could not have been solely my own.

People like to sidestep a bold embrace of the idea of God by saying, “God,” “A Spirit,” “Your happy feeling,” “Nature,” or, “Whatever you believe.” Fine. None actually knows for certain what is out there. I mean, for certain certain. One can only know based on his personal feelings affirmed by a core spiritual feeling of closure -and that same feeling can be experienced in another person about a completely opposite issue.

And so, like a child, I wait. I trust. I fully expect The Answer of our eternal end will involve a breaking of our consciousness into reusable matter of a collective-mind sort -but, of course, I do not know for certain.

Now that I’ve borne my religious soul, what about all of you? Do you still talk to God? What have you concluded?

Sanctuary in the Sands

The days without wind had been impossible. The days with, however, proved impassible. Hot desert breath pulled and pushed at his shaking, stalking frame in confused bursts of sand. He squinted every few steps for a bearing, yet was always rewarded with another hill.

He stood and breathed heavily through his makeshift scarf. Moving air whipped more gritty dust across his face, obligingly. He blinked, then couldn’t believe his eyes. Surely the wavering green upon the horizon was another imagination-induced reprieve, an apparition of his thirst-starved mind. Blearily, he licked the moist dirt from his lips again and again.

Step by sliding step he mounted the dune before him. Why not, since he had nowhere else to go but a forever dust-sleep? No one would ever find him as the sand piled over his prone form. He would become a sand hill himself, upon which other wanderers might slowly stumble to a dehydrated death.

I am the Sandman, he thought.

Taker of dreams…

Then his worn boot found footing more solid than dune. Then his other. And his ears realized a silence in the days-long howling of wind. He breathed simply air. He squinted, rubbed a gritty hand beneath each brow, fully opened his eyes.

Oasis. The word flitted across his mind as it tried to accept the picturesque glen his dust-crusted eyes could see.

He fell to a kneel and his swollen tongue slurred thanks to Heaven. His filthy hands dipped forward to the ready pool and scooped liquid manna into his parched and gasping mouth. Lovely, wet, clear water ran everywhere in his fumbling haste.

Nearly a full ten minutes of bliss passed before he noticed he was not alone. Large, beautiful eyes stared at him from beneath the rippling surface. Feminine eyes.

She smiled.

 

Written in response to Carrot Ranch’s 24-Hour Free-Write contest.

Heavenly Upheaval

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Miniscule man, pleading    up    up     up
To heaven’s crying firmament;
Sobbing down cemented sides
Of the citadels of shadowed faith.

No comfort here, outside halls of hell
Topped by stone-shaped demons;
Leering, spouting speakers are they,
Grotesquely grinning a gurg’ling flow.

Their curling tongues lick sewer lies
That wash no sin, only pointed horns;
Artistic expressions of monsters
Spitting heaven’s waste   down    down     down.

Timid heaven-bound thoughts falter,
Deluged in gargoyle vomit:
Mocking faith-dead mental misery
With beast-retched waste water words.

 

In response to The Literati Mafia.