As one ancient philosopher, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, once opined, (I take broad license to paraphrase here; who reads literal Greek anymore?)
“Life is like a giant Ferris wheel. As you progress through your life you will experience times of great peace, joy, and well-being analogous to being at the top of a Ferris wheel. At other times in life you will feel great despair, depression, or a sickness in your soul and body representing the bottom of life on the Ferris wheel. In order to appreciate and truly understand those moments of peace and beauty we must be able to contrast them with moments of turmoil and grief”.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius,commonly called Boethius(ca. 480–524 or 525 AD), was a philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born in Rome to an ancient and prominent family which included emperors Petronius Maximus and Olybrius and many consuls. In 522 he saw his two sons become consuls. Boethius was imprisoned and eventually executed by King Theodoric the Great, who suspected him of conspiring with the Eastern Roman Empire. While jailed, Boethius composed his Consolation of Philosophy, a philosophical treatise on fortune, death, and other issues. The Consolation became one of the most popular and influential works of the Middle Ages.
As long as we are alive we all experience the highs and lows of a Ferris wheel ride given to everyone living, without the hand of God involved. Such is life. Life comes in cycles, or waves if you prefer, creating the ups and downs our lives are filled with. The trick in life is to keep your head above water at all times. What we get from life boils down to a brief ride through the cosmos on our spaceship Earth. We don’t get to board the ship with anything but a blank slate of a mind waiting to be written upon. We don’t get to leave life with anything either. Life is a zero sum game; no one wins, no one loses, we live until we die and we hope to pass our DNA along to the next generation. That is our only reward for a life spent here on earth.
So where does heaven fit into this scheme of life? Some say heaven is paradise. However, all who have experienced love, peace, and contentment on earth, and those who have seen and recognized great beauty have all had a taste of paradise on earth. So what better does heaven have to offer? Some say you get to sit next to God. Humm?? Billions of souls sitting at the hand of God, assuming they all get past the pearly gates and are qualified to stay, whose reward is to spend an eternity in praise of the Lord. Even the most devout humans would probably agree that after a millennia or two of constant worship life could become pretty dull. Clearly heaven and paradise are not the same thing. So I ask again, what is heaven?
Before we get to heaven we still have a choice to make here on earth. We can choose which ride we want to get on. We can play it safe and stay on the kiddie rides, never going very high or very fast. Or we can get on the cyclone and get the thrill of a lifetime; maybe get more than we bargained for or can handle. Those wheels on my ride that keep my boat afloat are these; 1) hope, 2) passion, 3) understanding, and 4) acceptance.
If any of the above wheels goes flat on me along my travels my energy flags, and I lose focus; then I spin out! What do you do?