Tag Archives: death

Speaking of Heaven

I have not heard from the theologian who cast doubt on the possibility that those who commit serial sin (he was referring to homosexuals, I was thinking war mongers, money changers and churches that cast judgment) will see heaven. I think I know the answer to the question: yes, they will know heaven. They will also know hell. We all do.

My understanding of existential reality tells me that time is extremely fluid and relative to the immediate experience. A minute can be a moment or a millennium, depending on whether you have a limited time to be with someone you love or you’re sitting at the traffic light at the junction of IH-10, Fredericksburg and Woodlawn.

Feels like Heaven, Feels like Hell
There will be moments that pass immediately, only to be remembered forever – the first time ever you saw her face. Moments like that are pure heaven – complete focus on a blissful experience. Then comes the moment you last see her face – grown cold, hard, vengeful. May you never know such hell, but you are likely to come upon your own.

The virtues and cautions embedded in our holy writings and the best of our secular canons can indeed, carry you to heaven. No human experience contradicts the wisdom to know God, honor parentage and love your neighbor as yourself. Do as the good scriptures instruct, and you will know more bliss than blisters. You will have love in your soul and nothing to trouble your heart.

“Or Else”
Indeed, fail to live up to this standard, you know – be human, and you will experience negative consequences. “Treat the Earth and all that dwells thereon with respect,” the Native American 10 Commandments. To the Commandments of all faiths, I would add “or else.” Because if you steal, or kill, or use sacred language profanely, you will experience excruciating consequences. If the system discovers your crime and prosecutes with jail and other penalties, that hurts. But even in the event that no one else knows of your crime, it does not go unpunished. Your consciousness is damaged and no matter how desensitized your heart may be, the Shadow pays you back with Hell.

We do little heavens and hells all day long. The big ones mark us. We may be taught, and live to redeem whatever big sin, but we remember it. And we are certain to know the weight of a grandbaby in our arms, quiet evenings with close friends, spectacular sunrises and other spiritual oases that remain with us for the rest of our days.

The Flashback Dance
Before I died in May 2010, I would talk about “The Flashback Dance.” Knowing that time is relative, I imagined that a person’s last moment of consciousness must seem to be an eternity. If, as reported, one’s “life passes before my eyes,” that last moment will be filled with heavenly memories or hellish recall.

My experience in 2010 did not match the myth. Despite the “Real Story” I have no memory of the moment of death. But then, I am not dead – despite the indications that may have appeared on the instruments of the EMTs or emergency rooms that attended to me (again, I have no memory of this), I came back to life, the incredible medical team at North Central Baptist stabilized me and brought me back all the way to full capacity. So, my lack of a Flashback Dance is no proof that it doesn’t happen.

No Need to Wait – Heaven and Hell are at Hand
As I went through old journals yesterday looking for material for a new edition of SavajCards, I lived through some heavens and hells all over again. I recognize the value of Hell, how it does what it can to indicate how off-track we can get. I don’t want to live through another one, not as big as some of those, so I’ll watch my path and heed the lessons, whether inscribed in a bible or taken from experience.

Mindin’ My Own Morals
One thing I’m sure I won’t do – I won’t tell you where you’re headed, heaven or hell. It’s none of my business, and I am in no position to judge. I’ll warn you if I see you approaching a cliff – I’ll support you in acknowledging yourself and seeking your true bliss, but I’m not tellin’ you what to do or what it may bring. And I suggest that Dr. Gagnon and his students follow a similar policy – mind your own morals (just a suggestion).

A Real Story

When I died in May, it was much more traumatic for the people closest to me than it was for me. In concentric circles, my coworkers witnessed the death and took quick and effective action to save my life. Sue Ann, Holly, the Family of Friends and my son were also monitoring the resuscitation, coma and slow return to consciousness.

I have told many that I was completely unaware of what happened until a several days afterward when I woke up in the hospital and Holly was there. Holly should not be here, I immediately thought, she has work and school and the baby to attend to. If Holly was at my side, it must have been something major, and in the succeeding days, I became aware of what it was.

I have recovered completely, and the weeks and months that have passed, listening to the stories, I came to realize – and reconcile – that I had actually died this time (I have had a couple of small heart attacks, but none of them were 911 things, much less fatal). There has been some psychological adjustment, but the final feeling is pretty much, “yippee!” Because I am very happy with my life right now.

At a party shortly after being released from the hospital, a friend’s 11-year-old daughter asked, “well, did you see a light? A bright shining light?”

I told her, no, I hadn’t much memory of anything around that day. And others who have asked similar questions have gotten similar, and totally inadequate answers. So, I’ve gotta tell you the truth right now, listenin’ to the Stones and Who and Yardbirds on a Saturday afternoon. I’m gonna tell you The True Story, and you better believe it.

I was sittin’ there in a meeting, and suddenly, out of the blue, there’s these three singers, slinky little things with big lipsticked mouths. Just as they sang, “Wah-waahhhhhhh” I was swooped up outta the chair and transported through the sky, flyin’ closer and closer to the sun.

Could not have been seventeen seconds later when I was deposited in a funky-smelling studio, lined with egg crate insulation. Buddy Holly, Abdul Rebop, John Lennon,  and Jerry Garcia was all there, tunin’ up. Keith Moon and John Entwistle were off in the corner, bangin’ away at more than 120 decibels.

I landed behind a pristine Hammond B-3 with twin Leslies whirrin’ away. As I looked up, Keith and John stopped and everyone was lookin’ over at me. “‘Bout time, man, we need some pad underneath all these damn guitars,” Keith said.

What are you gonna do? These guys are great, the eternal best. I have hung on every note, every beat I’ve ever heard from these guys.

“Aw, fellas,” I said, “I’m not ready for this. I gotta do some more woodsheddin’.”

Jerry smiled up at me as I felt that floaty thing happenin’ again. “All right, savaj, we’ll be here.”