I’ve mentioned before how one of the Hospice patients I visit is a wheelchair philosopher. I’ll call him “Jack” for now. Today, I was reading the newspaper to him and discussing various topics, and has been our habit in the last few weeks. I don’t recall how it came up — I think it was sort of out of the blue — but he made the following rather provocative statement:
The ‘promised land’ is a state of realization. Whatever it is, it is NOT of the body.
Wow and hmmm… Like I said, he can be a deep thinker. I have to admit I’m note sure what he meant by that, in part because there was no obvious context to his remark. We had not been discussing religion or spirituality. However, he did follow it up by saying something to the effect: “The Kingdom of God is the way.” So, I thought he was talking about religion, but he indicated that’s not exactly what he had in mind. I asked him, “Are the ‘promised land’ and the Kingdom of God the same thing?” He said “no”, and he admitted that “Kingdom of God” was not the expression he was looking for, but rather a sort of short-hand for some other concept. Confused yet? (Keep in mind, he has trouble with his very short-term memory to the point where he often finds it difficult to speak in complete sentences and to remember what it was he started out to say. Even in his relatively coherent moments it is a bit difficult to follow his train of thought. I’m not making fun of him, just explaining.)
I told him I really liked what he said and that I wanted to think about it. He agreed that he wanted to talk more about this topic in the future.
I believe he is (a) coming to grips with his mortality; (b) reconciling his personal experiences with his philosophy about life and his spirituality; and, (c) he has at least partially figured out what life means to him, which is this “state of realization” he referred to. His body is failing him, and yet the “promised land” is not of the body, so he has been able to free himself, to some extent, from the trap that is his physical being and its limitations, and instead focus on his mind and spirit.
Does any of that make sense? It sort of does to me.