Lamott's quote prompts the question, what is the truth about who we are?
Is it possible that we are an accident of nature, a haphazard blend of genes? Are we the mistake of our parents or even their planned prodigy? Are we titles like president or director or even the recluse who lives down the street?
Who are we? What is the truth? Why are we alive?
For decades, I have researched Near Death Experiences (NDE). I’ve read most of the published books on the topic, studied the testimonies of large numbers of people, and have been blessed to talk with a few of those who have had an NDE. My interest began as an attempt to understand my own experiences of the same, but it soon morphed into an unexpected journey.
I was a very young child when I first experienced another realm. I was looking at all the nuns in dark habits surrounding a child in a hospital bed – each nun had her head turned downward in prayer. I heard mumbling, but I have no recall of words. I saw a doctor in white, bending over the child doing something to her chest. I watched curious of the scene before me, and then suddenly I was in the bed, coughing, under a plastic oxygen tent. I remember the doctor’s smile when I opened my eyes, the joy from the nuns when they saw that I was alive. Only later did I learn that I had pneumonia and nearly died.
This early experience was followed much later by another. In both, I glimpsed a state of mind that was unencumbered by fear or worry, a state of mind that was rational and loving.
So, who are we? What is THE truth?
What if our bodies, our brains, our senses are only a limited part of our story? Is there a way for us to know the unlimited part of who we are - short of a NDE? I suspect we glance at another reality whenever beauty or love brings us into wonderment. At such moments, we let go of our human confines and experience something divine.
To discover the truth of who we are, I believe we need to taste and enjoy life, as Lamott has suggested – the warmth of a child’s embrace, the tenderness of a friend or stranger, a sunbeam bright through the clouds, a pet’s adoring affection. Within the ordinary lies the extraordinary - we just need to embrace it.
If we all honored the “precious life,” would our world be so divided?