Dear Lord,

We are inclined not to think much
about death, and when we do, we may think about sorrow and darkness, and a mysterious, unfathomable, fearsome void
"from which no traveler returns."

I know that I cannot possibly comprehend death, the afterlife, heaven, purgatory
or hell: they are all beyond human reckoning.

But let me, Lord, envision some faint
hoped-for view of paradise.

Yes, first, banks of snowy clouds,
the firmament of heaven, more stunning
than the most spectacular sky
in the whole history of the earth.

Standing radiant, and almost transparent
through the mists of eternity,
I see my family waiting for me, and friends, more of them now already gone ahead,
than those remaining on this side
of the great divide.

On the left, through the mists of time,
my paternal forebears: railroaders
and ranchers from the west:
Grandpa and Grandma, sturdy aunts and uncles, and cousins known only on summer visits.

All are gossamer shades
arrayed in silver sunlight
and glittering with myriad stars,
standing semi-transparent in the cloudscape.
And with them are many, many friends
from all the years, smiling encouragement
and welcome.

To the right are my maternal relatives,
my seamstress Grandmama, and my wayfaring sailor grandfather-never-met,
but aunts and uncles and cousins,
one a Jesuit, all radiantly attired
and smiling, and among them many, many more friends from every period of my life.

All on each side stand, their arms outstretched, smiling and beckoning welcome.

In the center my loving mother and father,
my departed brother and my stillborn sister, happy, reaching out to take my hand,
eagerly urging me forward.

In the brilliance above,
where I can hardly cast my eyes:
the Virgin Mary, crowned in stars,
standing on a golden crescent moon
in a blinding blaze of glory, smiles welcome.

Then the Holy Trinity, appear, Father, Son
and Holy Spirit, one God Triune,
radiantly gold and silver,
shining like a million diamonds,
brighter than the sun, and surrounded
by infinite banks of saints and angels.

Now all the arms outstretched, my parents,
my siblings, my relatives and friends,
my God Himself Almighty, and I am, at last, saved. Saved from my sins, my iniquities washed away, my omissions forgiven,
my failures and my fears all washed away.

Then the vision fades, and I am back
in real time, alive, and still on earth
with the opportunity to confess my sins
and make amends for all my shortcomings,
with the last chances to forgive anyone
who sinned against me, and to ask pardon
for everyone I have sinned against,
and to make peace with my own God and Maker.

Oh, Lord, for all this I pray:
forgiveness for my inequities, salvation,
and union with You forever, my God Creator, my crucified saving Jesus, my Holy Spirit
and my Eternal Triune Love.



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