Today, on Good Shepherd Sunday, we have read about the Good Shepherd and how He is the gate to a new and abundant life--a life beyond this one.
During the Homily, our priest Fr Mike, talked to us about the intriguing topic of the afterlife. That was a smart idea, because no matter where you are in your faith, this topic is bound to grab attention. If some one's mind drifted off, I'm sure the topic brought them back.
Father pointed to three examples of miraculous events which point to the proof of Heaven. There were several examples, but the one that spoke to me the most was an example of a young girl, Akiane. Her entire family was atheist and the little girl was an exceptional artist. She began having visions of Jesus and Heaven at the age of four.
When she was eight years old, she painted this amazing picture of Jesus. Father also mentioned this painting matches Jesus' burial shroud - The Shroud of Turin by 90%.
The story reminded me of an experience I had once. A wonderful Christian friend of mine wanted to show me a music video inspired by the film The Passion of the Christ. I always have a hard time with the Passion because it's painful to see Jesus in such a way. The one who gave up everything for us is being treated so poorly and violently. My friend convinced me to watch the video and I watched as much as I could stomach. That night I had an amazing dream. It was set in Jerusalem around the time of Jesus. The colors everywhere were so pure: pure white stones on which we sat, pure bright sunshine, perfect temperature. I remember having a discussion with Jesus without words.
It was like He was reading my heart and responded to my anxieties. It was a calm and reassuring "conversation" that I will never forget. Ever since that night, I've handled the Passion much better. I still might not be able to bring myself to watch graphic shows depicting it, but it no longer tears me to shreds when I think about it. It's because the "conversation" with Him showed me that the Passion was only part of the story. And that is true. We can't leave out the best part: the part where He defeats death and opens the gates of Heaven for us.
The wonderful thing about God, though, is that whether we experience Him through super miracles like Akiane's visions or not, He speaks to us all the time. Sometimes in big ways such as my experience above, on in smaller ways: maybe a song or reading at church touched your heart, maybe it is in something you've seen or read, or maybe it's an inspirational thought in your heart.No matter what, though, when we pay attention and speak with our God, wonderful things happen. And that is proof enough for me that there is more Beyond this Life.