by Ken Rolheiser
God’s daily presence in this not quite heaven world

The story is told of a German couple who had a large family. When the last child was born, she was named Alice. Questioned about this choice years later, the mother said that when the father saw the newborn, he exclaimed: “Das ist alles!” Meaning “That is all!”

We are all born with an end in sight. We grow, age and move toward a physical end. The soul is not so. Spiritually there is no end anticipated. We are a gift from God and this gift will be taken back at some point in time.

Life is a struggle to some. I am reminded of Paul McCartney’s message in “Blackbird” which was inspired by his witnessing a handcuffed black woman being beaten by police. Her screams alerted him to the situation and her crime, which was to attempt sit in an area designated for whites.

Back in England McCartney followed the news of Little Rock, Arkansas, in the 1960’s, where a mob following a fifteen-year old black girl cried, “Drag her over to this tree … lynch her. No [expletive] is going to get in our school.”

So McCartney wrote,
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting
for this moment to be free.

Heaven bound, we face life’s adversities and struggle for justice and love for all! It is not quite heaven here. St Paul in Philippians 1:23-24 desired to die and be with Christ, partly because he faced prison and likely death in Rome.

In “How Are We to Live in an Atomic Age?” C.S. Lewis gives this answer: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer…”

We have our own list of mortal threats. Our situation is not novel, Lewis says. Death is not a chance; it is a certainty. If the atomic bomb is going to kill us, let it find us doing human things, “praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.” 

Time marches on for us. We can never go back to our childhood dreams and memories. Our life’s journey is going home to the Father. From the moment of our conception we move forward by degrees until our journey ends at natural death.

Though we all have an expiration date, life can be filled with happiness and love, which all combined make this a wonderful trip. We can choose to live a life sparkling with joy and hope or we can entertain sadness and sin. The realization of God’s daily presence makes all the difference. Faith is what makes happiness possible. The greatest life is one that enjoys God’s daily presence.

(546 words)