A few weeks ago I met another nurse who told me that as a teenager he had become so despondent that he had jumped off a bridge. The dive indeed had killed him- as was his intent, but once freed into the spiritual world he flew to a place where a wise bearded individual blocked his way. He explained to the being that he felt he had disappointed God and was no longer worthy of his life, the gift God had given him. What happened next took the young man by total surprise; the wise being began to laugh, not at him, not meanly, but with a deep sense of joy and mirth. The wise being did not speak words, but conveyed in thought to the young man that there was nothing he could do to offend God. And with that thought firmly planted in his mind, he was sent back to the physical world. He said he could see his body below him on the surface of the water and then he felt the sensation of wetness, and the need to breathe air into his lungs as he swam towards the shore.
Lying on the shore back in human form he struggled to explain the lesson he had learnt to those concerned faces that stood above him. His words were not enough; he was treated with massive doses of drugs over the course of the next few months as was the protocol of the day. He said that dying was not frightening to him but rather being in a drug induced coma had been. In a word, life is infinitely more challenging than death. But he knew in his heart that God loved him no matter the perceived mistakes he had made, no matter how messy his life, yes with absolute conviction he knew God still loved him.
Not everyone gets a second chance to explore life; many have succeeded in ending their lives far before God would have called them home. God still loves us, even if we give back the gift he has bestowed upon us, but the lessons remain to be learnt at a future time. Having said that I don’t condone checking out early, because often in life when we feel we have hit the bottom it is in that moment that circumstances and perceptions begin to change. I was told recently if we did not have the capability of feeling that deep angst we would never experience the other side of that emotion, Joy, to its fullest. Kahlil Gibran wrote “Your Joy is your Sorrow unmasked.” We have all experienced moments in life when things become so challenging we question how we will go on, we stand on that proverbial bridge and looking into an abyss of imagine freedom that beckons us. In that moment it is good to remember that our spiritual nature is eternal, we cannot escape from who we are, we are all children of God and eternally loved. Ultimately the Sorrow that flavors our humanness will also enhance our Joy.