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Fifth Sunday of Lent: Bridging Heaven and Earth

Last week we attempted to place ourselves in the space between heaven and earth, to love God by seeing life from God’s perspective, from God’s space. This exercise can be both consoling and difficult.

It’s often our loved ones who are dying that challenge us to move into this space with them. In the transition between life and death they often find themselves questioning what the next world will be like, are visited by those who have gone before them, and are sometimes consoled by Mary, the angels or Jesus. Our dying loved ones show us how to pass between time and eternity, they show us this is possible, and sometimes they witness to the path.

Once I was working in a counseling center at a large university and someone at a group pizza party brought up an experience that she had recently had with a beloved grandma who was dying. The grandma had had a consoling, life-altering experience speaking with a relative who had previously died. Of course, the psychiatrists and psychologists in the group knew better than to talk of such things, other than to write it off as delirium, and the room became devastating quiet. So, I said, “experiences like this are really common and many families have these stories,” and I told one of my own. Before you knew it, the entire circle was discussing episodes from their lives that witnessed to the space between heaven and earth.

These experiences help us in our prayer. We do not need to wait until we are dying to love God in God’s space.

This week of Lent, let us consider:

  1. Are there experiences from my life or stories that I have heard that witness to those who have begun the journey between heaven and earth?
  2. Can I gently imagine myself taking this journey? Who would be my companion(s)? Who would I want to meet: a friend, a relative, Mary, Jesus?
  3. If comfortable, try to stay still in this space and imagine the love that surrounds you. If love wells up in your heart, direct that love to the friend who has accompanied you or to Jesus or God. This is what it means to love God with our “whole heart, soul, and mind.” The mystics call this “Contemplation on Divine Love.”

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