I know most won’t read this because it is very, very, very long, so to the one or two who do, pat yourself on the back for not being afflicted with the A.D.D. the Internet has stricken 99% of the adult world with. I really opened a vein for it, so I think it will be worth your time. Thanks.
And to those who think a rhyming poem can’t be profound, please get out your Ouija board, contact Hank Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Bob Frost and Billy Shakespeare (et al) and take it up with them.
Journey to God
An old man passed away one night.
He’d had a good, long life.
and all that he regretted
was leaving his beautiful wife.
To others, her glory had faded
as the years had claimed their fee
but to him, she was just as lovely
as she was at twenty-three.
He saw his high school sweetheart
and remembered her sweet, shy smile.
He saw his bride in a gown of white
walking toward him down the aisle.
He saw her asleep in a hospital bed
as she cradled their newborn child.
He saw her quiet and thoughtful,
then passionate and wild.
He was so possessed by thoughts of her,
he hardly noticed he had passed.
He was still alive in spirit
and all his pain was gone at last.
He was surprised at how easy it was to die,
like shedding worn-out clothes
but even more to see himself below
as his spirit slowly rose.
He felt no urge or instinct
to return and get back in
for he knew the body on the bed
was never really him.
It was always just a vehicle,
now broken down and old.
What he’d walked around in all his life
was just a vehicle for his soul.
He had to laugh for, being dead,
he had never felt so great.
He couldn’t help but realize
this was a natural state.
Death was not the end of life,
just one more stanza in the poem.
It was not a sad departure
but a return to his true home.
But the cries of his dear wife
would not let him leave this plane.
He could not bear to leave her
while she was in such pain.
He saw her cry and hold him
as he lay still in their bed
and heard her whisper, “Rest, my love”
as he floated overhead.
He wanted to hold her and let her know
that he was free from pain.
He wished he could tell her not to cry
for they’d soon be together again.
But the wall between life and death
proved too thick and strong to breach.
The woman he’d held every day of his life,
for now, was out of reach.
So he cried, too, thinking of her
so frail and helpless there,
alone with his lifeless body
in the home they used to share.
Though at first he was elated
to be free of that painful shell,
he longed to return to tell her
that his soul was alive and well.
So as he floated like a feather
through the purple, misty air,
his sorrow and loneliness mounted
and he fell into despair.
When from far away, through the haze,
a strange melody reached his ears,
sung by a chorus of angels
to soothe and calm his fears.
He followed the voices, clear and sweet,
and could hardly believe the sight.
Radiant beings with glowing eyes
were guiding him toward the light!
“Do you remember me, John?” one of them asked,
“We were buddies in World War Two.”
“Do you remember me, John?” another voice called,
“You used to call me Grandpa Lou.”
“Hey, John! It’s me! Your brother, Joey!
I came here when you were ten.
I’ll bet you never thought
you would hear my voice again.”
This went on for hours and hours,
spirits wanting to say hello;
reunions with those he had loved so well
in the world and the life below.
His emotions were tossed seeing those he had lost
in the maelstrom of earthly life
where often the good are taken too soon
and heartache and sorrow is rife.
But there were two others he struggled to see
till he finally grew panicked and sad.
He said, “Wait a minute! Somebody tell me –
where are my mom and my dad?”
His brother whispered, “John, don’t worry.
They’re here and they’re happy you came.”
Then he saw them, bathed in golden light,
and their faces were just the same.
He cried with joy as he hugged them and said,
“Oh, I have missed you so.”
For years, he wished he could see them again.
Now, he could not let them go.
He was happy to hold them, to look in their eyes,
and laugh as they had before.
He was relieved that death is no different from life.
There’s just no pain anymore.
He told them he’d grown to appreciate
all that they’d done and said,
and as nice as it was to tell them now,
wished he’d told them in life instead.
But like most, he denied the fact of death
and refused to believe they could die.
He never allowed it to enter his mind
as the months and the years flew by.
Till he found himself standing beside their graves
and it finally sank in they were gone.
He was angry at God who allowed death to be.
It all seemed so senseless and wrong.
“Why are we given these feelings?” he had cried,
“And love that grows deeper with time?
If we’re bound to lose it all in the end,
then creating this world was a crime.”
And just the way he had wished
he could soothe his wife’s dismay,
his parents heard his anguished cry
and wished the same that day.
For they had already found their way home
to the fountain from which we all spring.
They had freed themselves of their mortal shells
and their souls had taken wing.
Now here he was, with them again,
and his joy could not be contained.
If only he’d known death was only a door,
his faith would never have waned.
“If you want to swim in the ocean,” they said,
“Just think it and you will be there.
Your body can’t slow you down anymore.
You’re as light and free as the air.”
“Remember those Sunday’s down by the sea?
Those summers that seemed without end?
Just close your eyes and imagine that time
and we’ll all be back there again!”
But he worried that God would not let him stay
and that all this was too good to last.
He feared that he would be banished
for his faltering faith in the past.
But his family and friends just smiled and said,
“John, you have nothing to fear.
A few things they said about heaven down there
are far from the truth up here.”
They said you had to go to church
for God to hear your prayer
but God can hear the softest whisper
anytime and anywhere.
You search for Christ was constant.
You fought for your faith since birth.
And the kindness you always showed in life
is the sole measure of anyone’s worth.
God doesn’t demand blind submission
or condemn you for questions or doubts.
It’s men that said God was vengeful,
a dictator who bullies and shouts.
You thought you needed pure faith
or God wouldn’t hear your call
but the times God tried to help you most
were when you had no faith at all.
You thought that sins were punished
with torture and endless pain
but the threat of hell is not for God
but for the church’s gain.
We don’t need a hell to burn in
or a devil to torture our minds.
Judgment takes place in our conscience
when we’re shown God’s vast design.
It’s not only the enemy of man
who compels us to do wrong.
Good and bad are side by side
within us, all along.
It all comes down to choices –
light or dark, right or wrong,
and they make or break our happiness
in life below and life beyond.
Every sin comes back to haunt us,
no matter how big or how small
and the pain we caused in earthly life
returns to us, after all.
We each have our own individual hell
and a battle none but us can fight.
Millions of souls are still spinning out there,
trapped in perpetual night.
For until they cure their own blindness,
in darkness their souls will bide.
God doesn’t force us to come back home
but patiently calls us inside.
Some men look at evil
and label it “God’s will”
but God gave life, and death for rest.
Only men can kill.
And some say God is dead
or he was never really there.
How else, they ask, can one explain
so many unanswered prayers?
How else can one explain
the pain and horror on the earth?
This has been the central question
since the dawn of mankind’s birth.
But like a mortal parent,
raising a baby all alone,
God did his best to teach us
then left us on our own.
And like a meddling father
who a child would push away,
God can’t live our lives for us
and he can’t cushion the way.
To take every hint of pain from life
would remove our right to choose.
If you really stop to think it through,
we’d gain less than we’d lose.
Some see the misery of human life
and ask God what it means
but the only way He could end it
would be to make us all machines.
So God does not stop evil,
though it hurts Him to let it be.
He can’t both rule with an iron hand
and allow us to be free.
The place that folks call “hell”
where sinners meet their fate
is distance from the light of God
and time to contemplate.
For once you feel God’s presence,
all your pain and sorrows cease.
All your questions then are answered
and your heart is filled with peace.
Men bent the words of Jesus
To control the multitude.
They took his divine message
and made it low and crude.
Men have always struggled for power,
from the caves to the streets of L.A.
Why wouldn’t they twist the word of God
and tell us we need them to pray?
The ring kissing, Hail Mary’s, and rosary beads,
right down to the Pope’s princely nod,
at best, is only good theater,
a bureaucracy between man and God.
You see, God is not some tyrant
who needs a chain of command.
You find God in the eyes of the aged
and in a baby’s hand.
You find God in a sunset
so pretty it makes you cry.
You find God in every warm embrace
and in a lover’s sigh.
You find God in generosity,
and in the meek and mild.
You find God in any gentle soul
who kneels to help a child.
You find God in the soft, pink light
when a new day has begun
and in the flower by the window
as it opens to the sun.
And yes, you find God in the dying
as the light fades in their eyes
and their spirit slowly slips away
to its true home in the skies.
God is in every one of us.
We can feel it when we’re young.
Then we’re snatched up by the world
and into the fray we’re flung.
We grow cynical and weary
and forget all that we once knew
when the peace and joy God gave us
has lost its native hue.
Oh, if only they knew, John! If only they knew!
What a wonderful world they might win
if they could only see past their differences
to the spirit that dwells within.”
He was shocked by these new revelations.
His mind spun around and around.
The chains that tethered his spirit in life
Lay shattered in pieces on the ground.
His parents said, “Welcome to heaven.”
He felt a peace he never thought he would know
and though his mortal life had just ended,
it seemed like a long time ago.
Then a hush fell all through the firmament.
Impossible colors filled the air, far and near.
His peace grew so deep, he sobbed out loud
and his mother whispered, “Look! God is here!”
– Mark Rickerby