My first 75 years: looking ahead
by Robert Ronald

The time for looking back is also an opportunity for looking forward because there is still an uncertain number of years ahead of me yet to come.

I don’t know what the future will bring. I intend to go on working and writing as long as I can, but there is going to be a time when I will have to lay down my pen. I am not afraid of death. It will be, I am sure, the portal to new adventures and experiences. I look forward to seeing my departed family and friends again and to unite with my ancestors and finally learn the whys and wherefores of history and God’s intentions.

My expectations of heaven do not include any scenes of floating on clouds, wearing white flowing robes playing a harp. What I envision is a life of activity, conversation and variety. I look forward to it, but still hope that that day is still far off. Life on earth comes only once. Heaven lasts forever, so getting there later is no loss.

I recently wrote a fable about life after death that sort of illustrates my conviction that the afterlife will be one of meaningful activity. Here it is.
Resting in Peace

The dead do not “Rest in Peace”. In Hell there is no peace, only weeping and gnashing of teeth and oppression from demons. And in Heaven who wants to rest with all that music and those banquet feasts and all the good company of angels and friends?

Actually, Heaven isn’t all play. The Lord of Heaven, who puts humans for better or for worse in charge of history on Earth, lets them run Heaven as well, but only for better not worse since now everybody knows and follows the mind of the Lord.

There is really lots of work to do and everyone takes turns in welcoming newcomers and volunteering for service in the various Heavenly Ministries. It’s a good thing no one ever gets tired. Because the more the population of Earth increases, the greater the volume of work in heaven. Oh for the good old days when there wasn’t such a flood of prayers and petitions requiring attention and there were fewer people to die, so that the Judgment Hall wasn’t so crowded!

Take St. Peter, for instance, and those assigned to assist him. They have to process all who arrive at the outer gate, both those with visas and those without. They have to set trial dates and assign prosecution lawyers from the Ministry of Justice and defense lawyers from the Ministry of Mercy. They have to make sure that each plaintiff’s Guardian Angel and Menacing Demon are accommodated and kept apart. They have to settle the conflicting claims of Mercy and Justice.

Also quite busy are those in the Ministry of Angelic Services, who are charged with assigning angels to guard each new person born on Earth. And they dispatch one by one the angels lined up waiting for the messages that they will be sent to deliver to all those on earth whom God wants to inspire, warn or instruct.

The Records Department oversees the registering of souls. They record Christian souls at their baptisms and all other souls whenever they are initiated into their respective religions. Busy at all hours of day and night are the clerks who record the merits and demerits of everyone on earth.

And of course, always at work are those responsible for the Banquet tables. They have to prepare the food and keep the tables loaded so that everyone will have whatever they wish to eat and drink whenever they are hungry or thirsty. And there are also all those dashing about taking orders and catering to the needs of those too occupied to come to the Banquet Halls.

The biggest and busiest place by far is the Ministry of Prayer. Here all petitions from Earth are processed. Every prayer must be listened to and registered. Divine Regulations require that all the requests of those who pray with faith must be granted while all others are invalidated and discarded.

The genuine ones are referred to the Processing Desks where each request is evaluated. Those that appear to be beneficial and don’t involve miracles or interference with the welfare or requests of others are OK’d at once and sent for execution.

Requests for miracles are dispatched to the Divine Intervention Office, all others to the Alternate Solutions Office. The granting of miracles is difficult because of the General Rule that forbids direct interference in physical laws or the course of nature. Top Management does grant exceptions to this principle but not as often as people would like, in spite of all the lobbying done by Saints in favor of those who pray to them for help and all the pleas of those concerned about the plights of relatives and friends still on earth.

Thus, most miracle requests end up in the Alternate Solution Office. The Alternate Solutions Office is always very busy. This is because so many people request solutions to their problems that unknown to them are actually not in their own interest or would compromise the rights or the welfare of others. And then there are all the times when two or more persons request contradictory responses to the same problem, like when opposing sides pray that it will only be their team that wins the football game or picnickers ask for dry weather when farmers are crying for rain.

In such situations Trouble Shooting Teams have to determine some satisfactory alternate resolutions of the requests. And they have the job of convincing everyone that the answers they are given are really what is best for them in the long run.

Everyone in Heaven is happy. They are at peace because they keep busy in service and interaction with others.

There are lessons hidden here.
Those who are happy doing nothing are asleep.
The restless are not those who do not rest, but those who are afraid to rest because if they stop running they might have to admit they have been doing things wrong.

Resting is not doing nothing. It is recharging your batteries so you can do more.
Happiness is having so much to be thankful for you can’t wait to share it with others.

Let me conclude these reflections about my life with some favorite lines from a poem of Robert Frost:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
All of us have miles to go before we sleep. But the woods don't have to be lonely if we reach out to other people.

And the woods don't have to be dark, if we have a God or other support going with us.

But the woods are deep. Well, that's what makes life interesting. Our lives are full of mystery, full of hidden treasures, full of we-know-not-whats. This is what gives life spice.

Blessed is the person who can make living fun. We can all die laughing: if we can find a way to live laughing, or at least smiling, well, at least thumbs up, dry our tears, find something to enjoy, look at the bright side, enjoy the little things that fill our days. That is an essential ingredient of living a happy life.