Just Pondering the Why of It All

You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

— St. Augustine

In the book, The Holy Longing, Ronald Rolheiser describes a Jewish legend about what happens to the soul just before it enters a body:


…just before God puts a soul into the body, that soul is asked to forget its preternatural life. Hence, just as the soul enters the body, one of God’s angels presses the baby’s mouth shut, as a gesture that, during its earthly life, it is to be silent about its divine origin. The little crevice below each person’s nose is the imprint of the angel’s forefinger, sealing your lips [as in, hush, be quiet]—and that is why, when you are trying to remember something, during your ponderings, your own forefinger spontaneously rises and rests in that crevice.

In a post written two months ago, I described an image of time as a flowing river as seen from God’s point of view outside of time:

In less than a blink of God’s eye, we are dropped into this river of flowing time. We live our lives, and then are plucked back out. In that brief moment of existing within time, we are transformed. We are transformed, through our choices, into either a heavenly creature or a hellish creature…

The word “sex” comes from the Latin word secare, which means to cut. To be sexed—to be male or female—literally means to be cut off from something, to be un-united, much like a branch is cut from a tree. Ronald Rolheiser, again from The Holy Longing, says that each of us have known this fact from our earliest moments in life, alone in a baby crib, crying for someone to feed us, to change our diapers, or just to hold us. We sense very early on that we are alone, cut off, that we belong to something bigger than ourselves. There is something in every molecule of our bodies longing to be re-united. Re-united to what? We are not sure, but the drive is there and we try to satisfy it by many different means.

This drive, this urge, this energy to re-unite constitutes the fire of our spirituality. How we choose to channel this energy is a very important question. Are you going to prematurely release this energy on mere whims and distractions, on things that promise immediate but temporary gratification? Or are you going to hold it in reserve so to speak, be disciplined, and engage it fully and wholely (holy?) in the appropriate manner, respecting yourself and others in the process? Are you going to channel your spiritual energy in ways that build harmony, integrity, health, and life? Or are you going to channel your spiritual energy in destructive ways that cause disintegration, dis-harmony, dis-ease, death?

I remember a discussion with some friends back in my early years of college. You know, that time in your life where you think you know all the answers. The debate was between “Does the end justify the means?” or “Does the means justify the end?” I remember applying those questions to the meaning of life, and settling on “the means justify the end.” (I later found out that this also applies to moral decisions.) Life itself is not an end, it is a means. Just live it.

So why did God drop us in this river of time, to learn to live a life, to learn how to channel our spiritual energies, to make choices with our free will that seek either harmony and unification or discord and disintegration? And if we make the wrong choices, are we really going to be separated from Him for all eternity? Is it His choice or ours?

I have this feeling that this mystery is a big secret.

And as he raises his forefinger over his lips, he thinks, “I wonder…”

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