Death ends a life, not a relationship. – Jack Lemmon
Lately I’ve found myself thinking of the final scene in that 1984 movie, Places in the Heart – the scene where all the characters in the movie are brought together in their neighborhood church to share in communion. As the wine and bread are passed around amongst the congregation we see a husband and wife who had come close to breaking apart, tentatively reaching out for each other, and then clasping hands. The camera pans down the pew and we see other characters, some of whom had been antagonists in the movie, sitting side by side, and sharing in the communion. The camera continues to pan, and now we see characters who had died in the movie sitting next to their loved ones once again. And it suddenly becomes clear that this communion is not your typical communion. This isn’t just church tradition and ritual – this is a coming-together, a beautiful depiction of love.
Recently I’ve felt a sense of separation from people I love. There’s been death. There’s been physical distance. And there’s been estrangement. And I’ve felt these yearnings to draw close to those dear to me, and to commune with them, and to re-connect with those with whom I’ve been separated.
Life seems to be a process of embracing and letting go, and embracing and letting go. The embracing-part is easy for me. The letting-go-part has been a little more challenging.
I think I’m making progress, though.
Here’s my latest thought about it all: I think the love we create in our relationships with others continues on, forever and ever, even after we’re “separated” from each other, physically, and even after we’re gone from this world. And maybe the love we create with each other adds to the world’s collective consciousness of good and its human stockpile of kindness and compassion – maybe the love we express to each other helps bring the waves of love ever closer to the shore of the human yearning for peace. I don’t believe the love we share with each other is ever wasted. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science: “Human affection is not poured forth vainly, even though it meet no return. Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it. The wintry blasts of earth may uproot the flowers of affection, and scatter them to the winds; but this severance of fleshly ties serves to unite thought more closely to God, for Love supports the struggling heart until it ceases to sigh over the world and begins to unfold its wings for heaven.”
Do all men and women have a yearning to connect with one another? Does all of mankind feel a yearning for atonement – at-one-ment – with Love? I know I do. And I know I’m not alone in this yearning.
In the Christian Science church we don’t have the wine-and-bread kind of communion. Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Our Eucharist is spiritual communion with the one God. Our bread, ‘which cometh down from heaven,’ is Truth. Our cup is the cross. Our wine the inspiration of Love, the draught our Master drank and commended to his followers.”
“ATONEMENT,” Eddy writes, “is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love. Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man’s oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage. His mission was both individual and collective. He did life’s work aright not only in justice to himself, but in mercy to mortals,- to show them how to do theirs, but not to do it for them nor to relieve them of a single responsibility… Are all who eat bread and drink wine in memory of Jesus willing truly to drink his cup, take his cross, and leave all for the Christ-principle? Then why ascribe this inspiration to a dead rite, instead of showing, by casting out error and making the body ‘holy, acceptable unto God,’ that Truth has come to the understanding? If Christ, Truth, has come to us in demonstration, no other commemoration is requisite, for demonstration is Immanuel, or God with us; and if a friend be with us, why need we memorials of that friend? If all who ever partook of the sacrament had really commemorated the sufferings of Jesus and drunk of his cup, they would have revolutionized the world. If all who seek his commemoration through material symbols will take up the cross, heal the sick, cast out evils, and preach Christ, or Truth, to the poor, – the receptive thought, – they will bring in the millennium.”
Oh my. For me, there is a sense of urgency to those words. It seems imperative, for the good of mankind, that we seek at-one-ment with Love. And now would be a good time to do that.
We worship spiritually, only as we cease to worship materially. – Mary Baker Eddy
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 3: 38-39