That’s an old Henny Youngman joke. If you don’t know Henny Y too bad – he was a genius of timing and one liners like: “take my wife (pause) please!” The painting is the Salvador Dali masterpiece that hangs in The Met in NY. I remember the first time I turned the corner into a darkened room and across the immense back wall hung this painting. It was never about religion for me, however.
God sneezes and religions, particularly the fanatical kind, believe they know precisely what to say. Lots of people I know are in church today, singing “Jesus Christ has risen today, hallelujah!” But people like me who keep our spiritual cards close to the vest for fear of recrimination and projections that we’re nuts, go about our day as usual. Redemption and resurrection for our souls, the soul of our world and the souls of our family are daily acts of faith and hope.
However, I have come to believe strongly in reincarnation. The first inkling happened when I was doing my life review. I had spent two years mulling over the breadth and complexity of my life determined to find a thread that tied it all together. When I found one, I also found forgiveness, anger, stubbornness and mean-spiritedness all tangled together. I discovered what I now believe was one of the lessons I needed to learn in this life in order to get out alive. It felt like a karmic cleansing so if reincarnation is real I won’t have to carry that ten ton suitcase anymore.
The second inkling happened a number of years ago when I read the great theologian and environmentalist Father Thomas Berry books, and in one, he wrote about the ever-evolving universe and how it needed us as much as we needed it. He said we are here for the evolution of our souls. I had never thought in those terms. It took me a while to fully understand what that might mean to me, and the message in the Easter metaphor of resurrection and perhaps in Jesus’ teachings though I am not well-versed in those is that our souls are evolving and thus never die.
The third is through meditation where I sometimes get to transcend my earthly plane (or bullshit) and float momentarily in some kind of divine embrace. It’s seems to be a taste of what was and what will be.
Most importantly, I finally watched the movie “Brooklyn” last night. At the very end, Alish, says off-camera and upon her return to Brooklyn “that this is where my life is.” It was one of those revelatory moments for me. It’s the moment where one acknowledges where he or she has created her/his life and must make the best of it. Perhaps and because I was adopted, my mother was nutty, and our family never close, I have always been in search of something grand and permanent and meaningful. Maybe now, because I am 68 and looking back at the how’s and why’s, and because I have given myself a year of non-doing I finally found where my life is in all its dimensions – where I am not just making the best of it but squeezing out its divine juices.
Now I need to discover what the next thing is to check off my karmic list – whatever it is and whether I succeed or not I am grateful that I heard God’s sneeze, and perhaps thank you is enough!