I was looking through old, old friends’ pages on facebook tonight (morning?) and I was so happy to have all these old memories come back, to see these people that I remember from my childhood and adolescence. Social networks are such a powerful thing!
Then I came across another memory: That of Seagar Degen. I’m sure most of you won’t know who Seagar is. He was my friend who commited suicide in 2007, I believe his junior year at West High. I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten what he looked like – only the friend from my early early childhood whom I remember him resembling. I managed to find the group his dad, Pete, started on Facebook and refresh my memory. I can’t believe it’s been so long. I still remember my first orchestra performance freshman year, when I was so nervous I could have cried, and he helped me tie my tie.
I read and cried over the comments on the page for a good minute. I came across one that struck me, a friend who wrote to him that whatever pain he had been through, it’s over now. But I disagree. That is our pain now. This is the burden we share in this world: working to heal the suffering that goes unspoken for so long.
Whether there is a heaven or not is a question we literally die to answer. Those who pretend to know are charlatans. Those who have faith are beautiful. But what resonates with me is life. This was put most eloquently for me by my friend Nat, speaking about why he is an atheist (bear in mind I can’t speak his words for him, but I’ll try to sum them up). A physics student, he has faith in what he can touch, problems he can solve. An existentialist, he believes this life is all we have. As a UU, he believes we must make the best of it – we must strive to do our best in this world. He likened this to the Christian idea of building a kingdom of heaven on earth.
See, whatever our religion, this Spirit must guide us. That is why at this point I can only put my faith in humanity. We are all we have. Sure, it’s comforting to believe that we continue to exist somewhere. I even have faith that the connections we build live on after we’re gone. How can I not, given that Seagar lives on in my heart and so many others’ and even on Facebook?
I cannot put my faith in heaven, filled with cloudy pillars, and hell, filled with flames, because I don’t believe the universe works that way. But I can trust in the human spirit, the love we build and the connections in our souls.
That’s why these song lyrics resonate so much with me (from The Tide by the Spill Canvas):
Heaven’s not a place that you go when you die, it’s that moment in life when you actually feel alive..
So live for the moment, now.