2 Micah 7:1-2, 9-14
Luke 20:27-38 or 20:27, 34-38
I have talked with many atheists who do not believe in eternal life, as well as people of faith who have their doubts. Is there something after this life? If so, what is it like?
Having worked with over 2,000 sick, dying, and grieving people, I personally have witnessed too many things and heard too many stories to question afterlife. The veil gets thinner as death approaches. The dying see things we don’t see and talk to people we can’t hear. Then after the death, tendrils of connection and love endure in ways we don’t understand. The connection we have on earth is not completely broken when a person dies.
Yet even my firm belief does not answer questions about what it will be like. I was married to John for 5½ years before he died, and I have now been married to Ken for 29 years. As the inquirers in the gospel asked, who will be my husband in eternity? When Jesus is asked about marriage in eternity, he basically says it is a nonsense question; we humans simply don’t understand.
It’s like trying to describe this world to a baby in the womb. The child knows only darkness, warmth, floating, and having every need met. There is no construct or capacity to even conceive of "blue" or "sunshine" or "family", or anything of this earth. The child can only imagine what he or she knows.
Likewise, we have no concept of what life after death will be like. Jesus often used earthly analogies to try to explain the afterlife, but they all ultimately fall short. I don’t know how I will recognize myself without my body, much less how we will relate to each other. I suspect we will understand and communicate without the barriers of skin, language, and all the other things that keep us separate and distinct. Yet this, like anything I speculate, could be totally wrong.
The important thing, then, is not to focus on figuring out what I will experience after I die. It is an exercise in futility anyway. The important thing is to decide in whom I place my trust. Do I believe in the God of resurrection? Do I believe that death is not the end, and that I will be embraced by the Source of all love and life? I pray that when my time comes, my trust in that Source is strong enough to allow me to let go of this life and sink into the river of God’s ever-flowing presence with peace and grace. Only then will I enter a realm that is beyond anything I can conceive or imagine, where God’s love surpasses every human design or construct. And in the midst of it all, I’m pretty sure God has the marriage thing figured out.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.amyflorian.com/.