THIN ICE BENEATH OUR FEET
I woke up one day this week to this:
Thin ice! We had thick ice earlier this winter, a little bit of ice skating was possible, but then we had a thaw . . . and then a slight re-freezing. A little later that day the cold continued and the ice had completely closed up over the water.
But it was still thin ice. I looked at it often that day and thought about that “one last heartbeat” between us being alive – and then we’re dead. A very thin boundary it seems between us and our final destiny: “up,” as we say, or “down.”
Some of us, the Bible says, will have to “pass through the fire” ; the things we have done here in this life will be tried and tested , and the worthless things burned up out of us, before we can go “up.” .*
It is with a kind of wry humor that I’m reminded of this every time I go to Mass or to class, because I have to pass through the smoke . . . of burning heat below my feet!
The city steam pipes below the sidewalk are vented right near the entrance to our church!
In our art work, down through the centuries, painters have shown that the location of Purgatory is right below us, right below the altar during a Mass; so how funny that the smoke of Purgatory seems to be vented right nearby!
And someone in the city decided that this would be a good opportunity for the children to display some artwork . . .
Except I don’t think they called upon young painters who understand much about the Four Last Things: Death. Judgment. Heaven. Hell.
Yeah, maybe bad language is one of those things that will need to be “tried by fire” – the hay, straw, stubble of their lives.
I thought it was ironically funny, but someone must have complained, because one day I walked by and the steampipe was rather plain:
The “pipe of purgatory” had been “purged.”
One can find humor anywhere, I think, as long as we take care of the major things, have it all settled between us and God, all, all, all settled; and then do the right things. Then you’re so free to enjoy life as it comes to you — and to see the love and joy and humor all around.
It’s soon becoming Sunday here in the Far North, so I’ll leave you with one last picture that shows how this all works together.
God the Creator, Our Father, started it all; the Son sacrificed His life for us, which is made present to us at every Mass; and every Mass touches Eternity and all the angels and saints in Eternity.
And the souls in Purgatory, beneath the altar, are being made ready.
. * Found in: I Corinthians 3:11-15 – (A life of … gold, silver, precious stones? Or wood, hay, stubble:)  Every man’ s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’ s work, of what sort it is.  If any man’ s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man’ s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.
“Up” is unimaginable, indescribable good things that God has prepared for us; and down is the pain of forever being “out.” As I wrote before, intense pain, like a physical pain, like a fire.
And it’s also one heartbeat below us, waiting for us.