Friday, April 9, 2010

My Choice for Passing On...

Many things have been written and discussed over the centuries of human existence on what happens when you pass on.

Religion, of course, is the anchor that most of the Christian global population believes in with God taking our souls to heaven to be at peace, for evermore.

Others believe that when we pass on our souls are reincarnated into another body to live yet another life. All so that our soul may learn to grow and appreciate its journey to peace, for evermore.

The third option is, quite frankly, as abrupt as driving down any highway in Ontario and looking out the window to see the day’s road kill on the shoulder of the highway. One day we are here. The next, we are gone.

So what do I believe in? I asked myself this question one day recently because a lot of things go through your mind when you are faced with passing on. And like anything I buy into, I’d like to know my options.

I’ve researched all three for awhile now. First, reading two books on reincarnation and how the process of learning about your past lives can be channeled through hypnosis. I’ve seen hypnosis and isn’t that popular entertainment at Corporate Conventions and on Carnival Cruise Lines? Don’t get me wrong the books are extremely interesting. They say that when you pass on your future lives learn and grow from your past lives and your soul, or inner being, enters new bodies to develop an overall peacefulness much like religion informs us of heaven, and being with God.

Reincarnation is also interesting because I would love to know what my past lives were and how I passed on in them. We all would, I’m sure. The hard part about this option for me is that when I called to see about the possibility of regressing to a prior life through hypnosis, I was told the charge would be $75 for a three-hour session. When I set out to examine reincarnation, I honestly didn’t think about the cost of doing so.

Another fascinating aspect of reincarnation is the definition of a soul mate. Most people think the term soul mate has romantic meaning. But that is not true. As I see it, soul mate has really little to do with a star-crossed lover and more to do with an acquaintance, friend or even family member. In reincarnation, a soul mate is everyone who you come in contact with in this life; or who you have been in contact with before, in a previous life. So you could have been your grandfather’s teacher; or your brother may have been your girlfriend’s father, in a former life. I would prefer to think of it that way. And so, if I am reincarnated, my first request would be to be reincarnated as Trent’s nurse at his retirement home.

Now the third option, to me, just isn’t possible. Call it what you may, but it’s the way I feel, how I have lived and the rationale of why we all are on this earth as human beings. With our emotions, our ability to communicate and all the other attributes that make us Human over Animal, it’s easy to see that one of those reasons must be a soul or life force. And therefore if Human has a soul, then an Animal doesn’t. When an Animal passes on, its gift to the Earth is to replenish the ground with its composition. The Lion King termed it, the Cycle of Life. I just think there has to be more.

And so that brings us to Religion. A bountiful and pure answer that is driven by faith. To trust that we will be looked after by God is certainly pleasing. He is our Shepherd who watches over us and instills little miracles amongst us occasionally. These help breed the faith.

My mother says I am a miracle. Jennifer and I think Trent is a miracle. And I’m sure all of you have your own miracle in your life. Some of you might think that my choice to pass on and have faith in Religion is sort of a sure thing; but, it wasn’t.

Religion has not been so pleasing to our family over the years. Two events come to mind. First, my mother was raised Baptist and my father, Catholic. My grandfather refused to attend my parents wedding because of my father’s choice of a Baptist woman. My father is kind and loving but I know too he is stubborn and with his long memory his relationship with his father was never really the same. That was until my grandfather had nowhere to go and with my parents good hearts took him for the last 10 years of his life. There my mother and father fed, cleaned and cared for him before his death at age 91. A difference of religion can play havoc on families until family values from religion prevail.

The second story begins when my young two-year-old body was suffering in hospital in Toronto. One Sunday my parents, eager to see me, indicated to members of the congregation at Park Street Baptist Church that it they would not be attending Sunday’s service as they were off to visit me in Toronto for the day. One member of the congregation was extremely upset by this news and spoke proudly that God will look after me and that they should stay at Church instead. (Note: My mother, to this day, won’t tell me who the woman was but does note that the woman attended her 50th wedding anniversary.) Well, that conversation did not sit well with my parents and so trips to Park Street Baptist Church lessened and lessened when my bothers got involved in hockey until they were no more. My mother said she introduced us all too religion but wasn’t going to force it on us either.

And so religion in my parents’ home was never really discussed. My mother rarely took me to church only when I asked what Sunday school was all about. We went a few times. I listened to some stories. But God never showed up at Church and I’m sure I asked him really, really nicely in a prayer or two to reach into my chest and fix my heart so that I do everything all my friends could do. But he never did. So to me religion was always just an option, as my mother described.

I renewed my strength in God when I was baptized in my mid-30s. Why was I baptized so late in life? Well it was due to two special events. The first was the birth of Trent Larock in 1996. Trent was two years in the making and when he was born, I pledged to God and anyone that would listen that I would rekindle my questions about faith and promised to take him to church. We did that.

And then in the year 2000, I had my Mitral Valve replaced with a true pig valve in my heart, the gift of modern medicine technology. With those two life-altering events, Jennifer and I joined St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church and became good standing members of the congregation. We took in the teas; I joined the buildings committee and even post-dated our cheques for weekly contributions.

All was good. Then Trent and I were baptized. I wanted to be before my operation to ensure that we would all get to Heaven someday together. After the baptism and for a year or so following we continued to church each Sunday, but then Trent joined hockey. And a practice here, game there led to another here and another there. Soon we were not going to church anymore. But the bottom line is Jennifer and I had restored our faith in God and hopefully passed a little on to Trent for the future.

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 I was angry. Why me was the common phrase. I asked God the question, “Why did you do this to me God after all I have been through?” I never got an answer. I wasn’t going back to church. I was done with faith… until recently.

In my research for what happens after you pass on, I was surprisingly drawn to pick up the Bible. I didn’t want to but when reading about reincarnation there were but a few, believe it or not, references to the Bible. Things sounded familiar, a lot of what I believed in now and therefore it coxed me to think about reading it again… but I didn’t.

Instead I went to Chapters where I found a book by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, entitled The Lord is My Shepherd – Healing Wisdom of the 23rd Psalm. I chose this book because it is based on the 23rd Psalm; the only psalm that I remember as a child and what I thought was a prayer to god, asking to keep us safe at night while we sleep.

The book is quite interesting because it is actually based on each line of the famous 23rd Psalm. The author takes each word of the Psalm and turns it into readable layman terms or Barry’s English as I call it. It’s purifying, encouraging and magnificent for the soul. I am reading the book for a second time now and underlining key words and phrases. I want Jennifer to keep this book and read it. Give it to Trent if he wants to read it. This one Psalm answers a lot of questions.

The other day I picked up the Bible. I started at the beginning and read well into the Old Testament. There are a lot of names in the Bible and stories about 900 year old men and a flood that covered the entire earth. Still, the most interesting stories are in the New Testament about Jesus. I find the Bible easier to read now then when I was younger or even when I was healthier. Perhaps that’s why people turn to God near death. It just makes more sense to me now. It feels good to open it and just start reading anywhere.

I made a choice the other day to believe in a spiritual departure. I’m going to pass on and go to heaven because of two reasons. First, I was baptized and second, because it is my mind’s choice. I am what I am because of who I am. I choose religion.

Thank you for reading and sharing,

Next blog... April 15, 2010... What's the dose of the day?


Terri Lynn said...

Hi Barry,

That was very inspiring. Of course I have shared with you my renewed faith in our Lord as well, so heaven to me sounds like an awesome and wonderful option. I may just pick up the book you read and take a look at it as well. Thanks for sharing.
Terri Lynn

Sherrie said...

Inspiring and beautiful...Thanks for sharing so much of yourself. You remain in our hearts and our prayers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
I read your blog with interest. I wonder about your two reasons to make it to heaven, in particular, baptism. Does that mean if you are not baptised you are excluded from heaven?
Just curious.

Holohans Down Under said...

Barry, it's too bad that religion sometimes gets in the way of a close relationship with Jesus. People all too often seem to miss the central point of Christianity - belief in Jesus - and worry about "doing good".

I am inspired by your faith in Christ, and we continue to pray for you, Jennifer and Trent.

With Love,

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Greg said...

Barry, I've read every word you've written with interest - the highs and lows. This entry was to me the most inspiring.

Thanks for your honesty about the way that earlier in life people got in the way of God. So sad, and yet, so prevalent!

I truly believe your example of faith will be a great gift to Trent in the years to come.

Thanks for your willingness to share,
Romans 5:1-8

Cathy Olliffe said...

I just found you Barry, and Chandra has told me you passed on yesterday. You seem so brave. You sound like such a loving husband to Jennifer and a wonderful husband to Trent. I am proud to have known you at all and I pray Jen finds the strength to get her and your son through the terrible days ahead. Peace be with you, old friend.

Bob Campbell said...


Although I did not know you that well we crossed paths many times. I read your blog with interest and envy. I believe that you have it figured out. Gina and Riley told me yesterday as I was out of town that you had passed. May the good lord take care of you Trent and Jen.

It has been nice knowing you MY FRIEND