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The 3 stages of life: my own reflection on the time-line of our life...
I have been thinking a lot about this
and this is how I see it: there are basically 3 stages of life. The very first
stage is the time when we were in the womb of our mother, for what is, usually,
a period of 9 months; then we were born and came out into the world, starting
the second stage of life, the one that we are in now, for many, many years,
possibly 70 or 90 years top, we never know how long this worldly life will last
although the one thing we do know for sure is that it will end one day; and
the third stage of life is eternal life, the life after death, the life in the
One True God, the Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and it will last
forever and forever!
To recap the 3 stages: first we were in the Womb, second we are in the World, third we will be in the One God. In the very first stage, there is an amazing growth, it is absolutely phenomenal what happens during these 9 months. Our time in the womb is very vulnerable and requires lots of love, attention and caring and the biggest threat of all is when the mother forgoes her main responsibility to protect and nurture the baby within her body. The first stage is a preparation for the second one, just as stage number two is a long and winding and challenging preparation for stage number three. The transition from one stage to the next one is a very radical one, whether it is our birth in this world or our death to this world, you can hardly get a more radical transition than that. Notice that the first stage does not know what the second one entails, which is similar to what is happening now, in the world, where we spend much of our time in a sort of denial about the end of life, pushing it out of our awareness, not often probing what is beyond it.
Regarding the very first stage, let me tell you about this set of twins, one boy and one girl, that were happily growing in their mother's womb. But one day, the little girl said: "I think there is more. I have this idea that we are going to go through a big change soon and we will go somewhere else". The little boy says: "What are you talking about? I don't want to go anywhere. We are fine here, we are doing just great, we have everything we need, we can hear our mother's voice and I love it here, I don't want any change!" The little girl says: "You must be right" and grows quiet. But after a little while, she starts again: "There is going to be a change, I can feel it. And we should not be afraid, it is completely normal, there is a sort of difficult passage but there is much more afterwards and it is beautiful and bountiful, in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine now". The little boy is annoyed and says " Leave it to a girl to always want more! I'm telling you that we should just enjoy what we have now. Isn't this wonderful? We are safe, we are fed regularly, we are comfortable and did you notice that she is constantly talking about us? She is constantly bragging about us to everyone she meets. I just love it! I hear her voice and it brings peace and joy to my heart and it puts me to sleep too. Don't talk anymore about any changes, is that clear?" The little girl does not say one more word. But a few minutes later, the little boy adds, in a slow and hesitant manner: "The truth is that, if you are right, and maybe you are, and I have wondered about this, but what it means is that, one day" and his voice gets dreamy, "it means that very soon we will get to see her face and she will look at us and smile…"
Everything in the developments of each stage is to bring us to the next one. Science and technology have given us very practical ways to understand the depth and breath of the world and even of the womb with, for instance, ultra sound pictures, which are amazing testimonies of the miracle of life.
But in stage number two, the world is our womb for eternal life. My non-religious friends asks me sometimes about this eternal-life business: "You are saying this because you are Christian but I'm not, I don't know about all this and to be frank, I don't believe in Christ." and my answer is "Lucky for you, he believes in you". Someone is there waiting for us at death and that someone has a name. Modern statistics have been very consistent when recording near-death experiences in saying the very same thing, whether the people involved in them were religious or not, they experience death, the end of a beating heart and a breathing body and they have an awareness of the moment, of going through the termination of this stage of life. Religious people know (more or less depending on the depth of their faith) that it is the moment when the soul separates from the body. And even atheists or agnostics or skeptics coming back from near-death experience report the sense of leaving their body or floating above it. And afterward, they all experienced a tunnel, a white light and the welcome by an astounding and glorious being…
In stage two, we get so engrossed in checking out every tree in front of us, we are so busy counting every leaf on that tree, whether we call them emails or news or stocks, that we forget about the big picture, but the truth is that if our mind and our heart can grasp the 3 stages of life as one full continuum, then we will see the whole forest. Not only the forest, but think about it, then, finally, ultimately, we will see our Father's face …
Copyright ©2008 Michele Szekely
originally published on Catholic.org here