Monday, March 17, 2008

An Epiphany of Sorts

I just finished reading a book by Dr. Larry Meredith, "Life Before Death." It is a difficult read. One of the contributing reviews was from the former Dallas Quarterback, Don Meredith, the last sentence in the review said, "I didn't understand a word of it."

Dr. Meredith is obviously a well traveled, well read scholar. Parts of the book are filled with references to eastern religions such as Buddhism, and other systems from all over Asia. I had one course in college some 45 years ago on the religions of the world. Obviously a lot of the book was out of my league, however I do not consider myself unintelligent. The book did create some fine moments of discovery and realization that had me thinking for days after completing the reading. That should be the mark of a good book that it effects change and provokes study and thought. This book of Dr. Meredith's did that.

I am sure the book was filled with many points, much I may have missed. But I did come away with three powerful ideas that gave cause for reflection.

The first is Sisyphus. Condemned to roll a boulder to the top of a mountain, just to have it roll down to the bottom day in and day out. On and on forever poor old Sisyphus' task is to roll that boulder up the hill. I remember the parable from my younger years and I felt it was a terrible punishment. To roll a boulder up the mountain just to have it come crashing down again. Yet, Dr. Meredith says in one part of the book that perhaps Sisyphus is happy and perhaps we are in envy of him. I had never thought of Sisyphus as happy.

Then I remember times in my own life where the daily grind took on a Sisyphian feature. When I was drinking and life held no new excitement, the only escape was in a glass or a bottle. Other times when the crush of loneliness and fear held me in a mean grip the only thing I could do was grit my teeth and wait for night to fall. Now my tasks are light, but you know, it is still like Sisyphus, I get up in the morning, face a task and come home at night. There is the line of a rock song that goes, "And when the morning light comes, I get up and do it again, Amen." Perhaps Sisyphus isn't such a tragic figure after all, perhaps that is what life is about, toiling at some labor day in and day out. Work can be fun you know!

The second point I came away with is the importance of love and passion in life. Without it, life is drab, and Dr. Meredith points out we were not meant to live a drab life. Life is not something to be gotten through, we only experience it once. As the old saying goes, I shall not pass this way again. I am not Dr. Meredith, I have no urge to travel the world and see sacred dances of faraway places and rituals I cannot relate to. I have come to understand that God is not to be sought. Life is not a search. If you look about you the creator is here. God is not embedded in man, the world with man as a part of it is embedded in God. We don't have to search the world over, we can stand still, open our hearts, our eyes and our minds and experience God at any moment. When I quit this earth I will join God, for God is ALL.

The third point is related to the second. At the end of the book Dr. Meredith relates a story about his discovery of ten commandments. They are refreshing, they are uncomplicated, they are enlightening, but they are his, not His. Throughout the book Dr. Meredith talks about eroticism, passion, love, children, all fine qualities in life. None to take offense at, so it is not surprising that Dr. Meredith restates his philosophy in his commandments. They are worthy statements. However, the real important point is the last paragraph of the book where Dr. Meredith relates an old campfire parable about our pilgrimage to the top of The Mountain. Each pilgrim treads his own path, the view down the mountain is not the same for any one pilgrim. Some pilgrim's are apparently still, sitting and enjoying the sights, others are on the move. The point is every path, by every pilgrim is unique and I may not force my path on anyone else. This from a Methodist minister.

So, yes, I liked the book, I recommend it. For those of us not so well read or traveled it will challenge our visions. Then again, isn't that also the mark of a good book?

No comments:

Post a Comment