My 4-year-old granddaughter asked me this yesterday morning. I had mentioned to her that Gramma and I were getting a new dog in a few weeks, one that will be little, but a little bigger than Carmel, the Dachshund dog we had before.
“What happened to Carmel?” she asked.
“Carmel died,” I replied.
“What does ‘die’ mean?” She quickly responded.
I never expected her response or saw it coming. For a few moments I sat stunned, not expecting such a quick reply. What should I say to an innocent 4-year granddaughter whom I deeply adore and love? She remained quiet, looking at me, waiting for an answer.
“To die,” I began as thoughtful as possible with seconds ticking by, “is when our bodies get old or something happens and they don’t work anymore. So, we, like animals, die. It means we leave our bodies and become part of the Spirit world.”
“What is Spirit?” Papa?
“Spirit,” I continued the best I could, feeling I was offering a funeral meditation for a grieving family who just lost a loved one, “is another existence where we are everywhere at once. Yet we can still help people who are worried and afraid. Spirit never grows old and dies.” Then to add a bit of assurance I added, “Some also think our Spirit comes back in another body to live and learn more lessons on loving others.”
At that point, she seemed satisfied, or heard enough. At least, there were no more “Why’s.” So, we returned to saying our good-byes as she and her daddy departed for home.
“Out of the mouths of babes,” I thought to myself. During the day, I reconsidered what I said or might have added. I asked myself if I was satisfied with my quick answers, and how they could improve.
How would you answer? Personally, I believe and feel life continues after the body dies but in a different or new form. Although spurned by many modern “believers,” whom I always question, I believe from my own experience and readings, there is an existence beyond this life-in-flesh. Working with a few psychic gifted people, I have found comfort in their words and intuitions. I have talked with folks who having friends or parents die, sense their presence with them, who even found evidence of it with lamps lighted or things moved! I have read studies by credible researchers on souls which have been reincarnated into other bodies, who found children who spoke other languages from a different family in a previous birth. I think of living now as preparation for the next one, outside of time and space and or the returning to another life in body. “….and their works will follow them.” (Romans 14:13)
I think of religious institutions as ideally sharing these insights and experiences. Little children aren’t the only ones who ask the question. Yes, we can easily become overwhelmed with imperfections of this world, which in my thinking will never end. I experienced this confirmation from the lyrics of U-2 the other evening at the stadium:
“I have spoken with the tongues of angels…. But I haven’t found what I’m looking for…I believe in the kingdom come Then all the colors will bleed into one…But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…”
Life here is part of that journey or searching and realizing it’s not the end, it’s not enough, there is more. Meanwhile, life still becomes as Bono sang, “you give yourself away, and you give yourself away…”
Thanks, Madeleine, for asking Papa your question! It helped make my day.