I had 30 minutes in the car yesterday to think about what is waiting for us in the afterlife. It just so happens we were on the way to church. The kids traditionally read their books while we drive, but there was no “we” this weekend. Colin was out of town. So I had some quiet time.
The Fairytale Afterlife
The little-girl-inside me wants the afterlife to be like a happy relaxed party on top of the clouds. One key feature will be a nice green-felted card table where I will finally meet up again with my Mom and my aunts and uncles.
We can play all sorts of cards and games. We’ll play Up and Down the River, 7 Card No Peek, 7 Card Baseball, and of course plenty of hands of Euchre. In Heaven, tthere’ll be no limit to the snacks and drinks we can have on the TV trays next to us, And when we argue about the rules, it will make us really glad to be there.
The Traditional Afterlife
The former Catholic in me dwelled for a moment on the possibility of Hell and Purgatory. But the current Unitarian Universalist in me discounted those theories pretty quickly. I am moved to a philosophy of God is Love, so the idea of punishment in the after life makes no sense. I’ll allow that I am not God, of course (so what do I know?).
But being made in her image, I feel that permanent unending torture for deeds one did because of being born in 1) the wrong religion 2) a less privileged class or skin color 3) due to undiagnosed mental illness 4) terrible childhood experiences or 5) genetic flaws doesn’t seem like a very God-like thing to do.
The Existential Afterlife
The Rhetorician in me immediately started to ask questions. Like “How could anything really wait for us in the afterlife? How could there even be time or space as we know it on Earth?”
This version of me categories life on Earth as a sort of constant run around the Equator (you can choose to walk to jog). Linear, following rules, knowing (by and large) what is around the corner. Mapped out and discovered. Life as a human has its pain and its heartache, but in truth, it isn’t anything billions of humans haven’t experienced before.
Conversely, this more existential life after death is so much more amorphous. It is the purest form of creativity. Its shape moves more like a blot of oil in water — one you observe under a microscope, in a dream you are having, on a hot Tuesday night, during a thunderstorm, while on your first-ever vacation in New Orleans.
Arriving in the afterlife: No Waiting
Self-awareness is set aside.
In this afterlife what is waiting is release. Everything is experiential and sensory — although the sensory experience flows from the mind matter. The body is gone, but the mind and spirit remain — just as they were on Earth.
I imagine that afterlife is a kind of escape from the tethers of the body — but also of the entrapments of the self. If other spirits/energies meet me, we are there without any human barriers.
If a spirit has the idea of returning to human form — through reincarnation — they may. If a spirit has the idea of connecting with others, connections are made. If a spirit is happiest drifting on a float on the clear blue Jamaican water, it floats.
Ultimately, in life, we experience the universe not as it is, but as we are. So although us humans seem to repeat cycles over and over of birth life love and death there is no repeat cycle. Everything is new, because each spirit is unique.
That is human superpower. As we go forth into life after our bodily death, I expect us to become even more so: more super, more creative. More ourselves.