Lifeways

Summary. The fictional short writings below are offered to be thought provoking and inspire the reader to explore and reflect.

Out of Body Experience. Peniel and Hanan had been to the ocean on many occasions, but that July was their first trip for purely pleasure and rest. As triathletes, a day at the ocean usually meant a full day of tiring training which somehow felt like work to them. Inspired by the playfulness of the waves, they began to frolic along the shore as seagulls circled around them seemingly entertained. Peniel and Hanan soon took to the ocean, swimming with the ease of dolphins. Looking up, Peniel saw that the seagulls were following them. She turned back to get Hanan’s attention and soon realized something was wrong. Hanan had been pulled under by an unexpected rip current. In competitions, the swimming can be difficult, yet the course is typically roped off and marked with buoys and rescue boats to keep swimmers in safe water. The routes are checked in advance to ensure the safety of the water. Hanan was on the edge of the current wall and she was able to get him pulled back into calmer waters. Yet, he was already unconscious and non-responsive most likely due to having taken in water to his lungs. With all her strength, she vigorously swam to shore, pulling him the entire distance. Once on shore, she checked his pulse. There was none. Her heart began to race. He was clinically dead, but for how long she didn’t know. Trembling, Peniel began performing CPR on Hanan to resuscitate him. The hard swim to shore through the cold water fatigued her muscles. Her trembling was made worse because of her love for Hanan and the seriousness of the situation. She continued the CPR with tears flowing from her eyes. With a gasp and a sudden convulsion Hanan was back, seemingly unaware of what had happened. Days later, after Hanan had recovered, they had a chance to talk about life and death. Hanan told Peniel about seeing the situation from above the ocean waves. He had witnessed the out of body experience that many people describe who have died and come back. The experience taught them that a person certainly lives on, even though a clinical death of the body has occurred. Though the body lives in concert with the spirit and soul, the spirit and soul ultimately have an independent lifespan from the body.

Meditation of Soul and the Sixth Sense. Peniel and Hanan had a long interest in meditation. In a limited capacity, meditation is a type of sensory relaxation. By tuning out the multi-sensory environmental stress of daily life, on a physiological level, meditation allows the mind and body to return to a state of calm. Just like calibrating a scale for more accurate measurements, quieting the body’s senses offers more acute awareness and sensitivity. For Peniel and Hanan, meditation offered a foundation of understanding the connection between the spirit or soul and the body. In meditation, one witnesses the experience of life without the six senses. The five senses are smell, taste, touch, sound, and sight. The sixth sense (often considered intuition or ESP) is experienced as surfacing feelings or conscious thoughts. In deeper meditation, the mind doesn’t really think in language. There may be a mantra (a simple sound or word repeated), or the mantra may fall quiet as one experiences a state of simply being. In this state, one is alive (or experiencing life and being) independent of the body. This state is similar to what many people describe in near death experiences. In reflecting on Hanan’s death in the ocean and coming back to life again, Peniel and Hanan agreed that death was simply life without without the use of our body.

Life and Death. In their second year of marriage, Peniel and Hanan were eagerly awaiting their first child. This was a long and patiently awaited baby. The nest building instinct was in full swing, as they were nearing the completion of their new home. It was finally at the point that they could begin living in it, yet much work was still remaining with drywall, painting, and trim work to be done. Quite coincidentally, like the birth of a child, the construction of their home would end up taking 9 months. Long before taking any actions toward having a baby, they had already decided on a name and had purchased some infant booties as a tangible reminder of their future hope. So, they were already attached to this baby before it was conceived, discussing the child by name as if she was already with them. Sadly, in less than a month after discovering that Peniel was pregnant, she had an unexplained miscarriage. This was the source of great pain for the couple and they struggled with understanding and accepting what had happened. Had they lost their first born child? Was the child they had been hoping for gone, never to return? Would it be appropriate to use the same name for their next child? They came to an understanding that helped them through this difficult time. On a Sunday afternoon, they were in the living room of their home, resting and looking through their photo album of before and after photos showing the construction progress of their home. The afternoon light was softly illuminating the room and it illuminated their understanding as well. As they looked through the photos, they simultaneously had a revelation. The photos of the house construction were like ultrasound photos of a baby in the womb over many months of a pregnancy. They didn’t move into their partially constructed home until mid-way through the project. So, they concluded, that their baby at such an early stage had not yet moved into it’s “future home.” Because the pregnancy was shortly over one month along, the embryo had not yet formed to become a fetus. There was by no means any understanding that could bring them happiness right away. Their immediate hopes had died, and they were deeply saddened by that fact, but they concluded that the child they were waiting for, was still waiting to meet them. After some months of recovery, emotional healing, and reflection, they tried again, and with no complications, the child they had long awaited arrived.

Living Will. In reflecting on their experiences and observations about life and death, Peniel and Hanan both had matching living wills drafted. If ever the situation presented itself, neither wanted their body in a vegetative state kept alive by machines. They considered that a person lives inside the body for a time, but the body does not define who a person is. We are spirit living inside an earthen vessel. At the beginning of life, there is a time when the body is waiting to be occupied. So too at the end of life, the body remains yet it’s occupant has moved on. For some people, at the end of life, the body may still be functioning, like a car with the engine running, yet nobody is at the wheel. At the beginning of life, and at the end of life, soul and spirit are separate from the functioning of the body.

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