DAYS OF HIS NUMBER
From the time he was old enough to understand neophyte concepts of space and time, he wondered how many days he would come to know and experience within his lifetime. He remembered once as a child when he thought he would be cheated by time because a calendar for a particular year ended in days on December 31. At the time, he asked a living aunt, now since deceased, if December 31 would be the end of the world for mankind. She, with the nurturing of an angel, explained that the world would not necessarily end on December 31 and that if God and our Creator would be so generous, the calendar year would begin again on January 1, New Year’s Day. He thought to himself: Thank you God and Happy New Year indeed! His aunt, based upon life experience, had provided him with an answer for what he had not before understood about living and time.
Still as a child, he wondered what his number would be. Biblically he later contemplated that if one were to be so fortunate, one might expect to live in mankind’s space of time for about 70 years (+/-) or the length of man’s days on earth. Considering this model for length of days, on average, 365 days multiplied by 70 years, one might expect to live for approximately 25,550 days. He understood, of course, that there are many variables in life and considerations of health too numerous to fathom that affect such a life expectancy.
He reminisced about his life now that he had lived to be an elderly man. He had been fortunate to live beyond the summit of reasonable life expectancy (12,775 days). The first 5,500 days or so, he remembered enjoying the innocence of childhood and youth. Growing up he daily heard the counsel, admonishment, teaching and advice of adults whose ages and titles ranged from young blue-collar workers to older urban professionals to include school teachers and clergy. There were times he cried childhood tears of pain from accidents and from parental discipline and there were times he laughed and wondered about life with childhood excitement and amazement. He wondered and pondered the miracle of life and questioned many about why and how; much like the childhood questions of why is the sky blue, why do zebras have stripes, how do birds fly and how did I get here?
The next set of 5,500 days, he had in that span of time become a soldier, a husband, a father and an uncle to a host of nieces and nephews. He climbed with ambition and enthusiasm career ladders in the pursuit of constant and continual personal development, financial reward, adulation, power and success in keeping with Mazlow’s Hierarchy of self-awareness and self-actualization. He struggled to keep pace with societal demands and expectations for keeping up with the American dream.
At age 45, past the of summit of his days (about 16,500 days), his children had become adults and attended institutes of higher learning. He had joined the statistical ranks of the divorced. In wonderment, he reflected on where he was ultimately headed in life and again why? Life had been good to him, all things considered. He had made mistakes, but life had been forgiving. He had come to appreciate, as many of us do, lessons encountered in life over time and their often deeper meanings for us personally. Patterns and concepts of life combined to emerge in ways not previously considered or understood. Religion, for one, as clung to by various sects of mankind, had for him become an enigma.
What was it about religion that made some people act inhumanely? Was it correct that religion was a marvelous invention of man? How could anyone act treacherously or barbaric in the name of a God who embodied every aspect of love? Religion for the sake of radical and fundamental religious pursuit, for him, was very questionable. How could so many religions that professed the truth and exclusive pathway to the heart and mind of God all contain in their finite wisdom the infinite expansiveness of the heart and mind of God? As expansive as our limited understanding of the depth and breadth of the universe, could not the heart and mind of God be even further transcended? Is it not plausible that God is too expansive and too omnipotent for any one religion of man or anyone’s personal concept of God?
Religions among mankind generally teach us to obey the golden rule, love our neighbors, love our enemies, love our parents, love our children, love our God, do good. It is religion in the name of God on many levels that is, and has been, the root cause of war, hatred, genocide, treachery, manipulation, star chambers, religious crusades, kangaroo courts, church bombings, slavery, illiteracy, physical abuse and oppression. Yet, it is also religion in the name of God that rails against religious persecution. Why are some religious cults and enterprises overly overt in their praises and worship but clandestinely covert in their hatred and prejudice of others? Where is the love of God in any one religion that is heavily steeped in the hypocritical admonition of love for neighbor but avocation of killing the non-believer who lives and believes differently? Is religion a matter of free will for man or is there a divine purpose in the madness of religious prejudice, anguish and strife? Why does any one religion with professed good and sincere purpose for all mankind teach love to the detriment and extinction of other religions teaching the same? Is God really love?
He struggled immensely with whether any one religion could totally embrace the meaning of it all: life, death, the universe, God, eternity. Religion, a belief and a hope for something eternal, something beyond our ability to fully explain, something beyond death that is apparently needed to satisfy mankind’s need for existence. Death, a point in time we all march toward from the time of conception within the womb, is generally not welcomed or joyously received even though mankind generally hopes for and anticipates an eternal afterlife.
Will the promise of life after death, reward of heaven, ultimate enlightenment, life everlasting for so many divided religions and believers be so divided when achieved in a life hereafter? Will crossing the river Styx, transcending the veil of life, becoming resurrected, walking the horizon into the next life or absorption of the soul into the supreme spirit all come to the same place? Upon arrival, will so many different believers be sorted and divided into separate locations of the afterlife according to one’s respective religion and adherence to respective rituals and tenets claiming God’s promises? Will only one religion out of so many be the decided religion of the heavenly host, the Supreme Being for exclusive admittance?
He was now blessed to know 32,848 days. He was 89 years old. He had looked down and out from mountain peaks and he had looked up and around from valley floors. Some days were with heartaches, some days were with disappointment but a great many days were with joy and appreciation for life. It had become true for him that there was a reason for everything under the sun and that there was a time for everything. There was a time to be born, a time to cry, a time to live, a time to laugh, a time to accept and a time to die. He had learned not to struggle too much with why anymore. He had come to discover that the laws of the universe are polar in nature. There is cause and effect, and consequence, to every occurrence within the universe: from cold to hot, from dark to light, from metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly and from death into life. He surmised that even though a tree falls in the woods, its fallen timber decays to give life to another. For him God had truly become love, but more through the essence of personal extension and unselfish giving. The heart and mind of God did not abide within himself. He existed within the heart and mind of God which was merely manifested within himself.
He was now content with life, its meaning for him and its end. He knew that a life’s work would give birth to the purpose for which it labored. The body, this suit of armor for traveling in this lifetime on the face of the planet within the universe, was only provided to serve him for this time and space. He had learned to love in sacrifice to others in order not to deprive another of his or her property, livelihood, joy, life, family or personal freedom. For him, to not love was to then live in the godly notion or human concept of sin. Sin for him had become that thief-in-the-night that robs another, whether it be by might or deception, of what another had rightfully been blessed to enjoy as his own and earned with integrity. Simply to love for good and rightful purpose in life was settling to his heart and authored for him profound meaning of life and existence. The answers to the questions of why he knew truly lay within the heart and mind of God.
This day for him was to be the day of his number, his number of days he wondered about just a few thousand days ago. His number of days was such an infant number when compared to how many days the universe and all of its expanse must have been in existence. His eyesight had grown dim and his hearing faint. He walked with a snail-like pace. He was feeble of step. Where had he remembered walking before with such uncertainty of gait? Ah. Yes! It was during his first 600 days or so when he was first learning to walk. Is this what was meant by the saying once an adult, twice a child? He knew that we came into the world as children and if fortunate, would leave its realm with the forgiving heart and beauty of a child. Everyone, at some basic level of humanity, loves an innocent child. Loving, unscorned children and grandparents both seemed to him to enjoy a certain kinship of smile and an affinity between them for the gift of life. One had newly arrived in being from where the other soon had to return; a state of the body’s physical non-existence. Though dim of eye, he saw life more clearly now than he had ever seen before. He understood. If one could truly not become as a child in spirit, one could not travel the universe of life beyond. Love was the miracle for all of life.
His voice began to trail off and he spoke very softly now. His family and loved ones that were present drew near to him. He was reclined in posture. One could faintly hear the beginning of his words. The answer to the why of the universe is . . . . With an incomplete sentence he was gone. With peace and a gentle smile, he left for another state-of-being with the lessons of this world and into the further knowledge of what lies beyond.