By Deacon Derick Cranston
In northern Minnesota near the Canadian border, forest and lakes stretch as far as the eye can see. When the night is clear and the lake is calm, the stars reflect upon the still water of the lake. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between the stars reflecting upon the lake, and the stars in the night sky.
There is a border where heaven and earth meet. That border is the soul in each of us. Our souls are but reflections of the divine, reflections upon our existence in time and space. We sprang from Mother Earth and the Holy Spirit breathed life into us and made us into the image of God.
Our soul, however, is not always the vibrant reflection of the night stars upon a calm peaceful lake. Over time grief, sadness and the suffering of the human condition bury the reflection of the divine deeper and deeper within us. The suffering we experience throughout our lifetime can produce many layers of a certain painfulness that hardens our heart.
But no matter how many layers and no matter how hard our heart becomes, the divine is still within us. We simply have to peel back the layers that have encased our soul. It can start with a simple prayer in the morning, or reflecting upon a passage of Scripture at night. Over time if we are patient and diligent, the first cracks will start to appear. For some, it will be the shock of a sudden trauma or the loss of a loved one. At this point we can let the suffering shatter the hardness of our heart … or harden our heart to the point that it becomes unbreakable.
St. Paul wrote: “For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with human hands, but eternal in heaven.” As I stepped out of my tent that night and gazed up at the stars in the northern Minnesota sky, it felt like I had stepped into the eternal heaven not made by human hands, but built by the Lord.
There is indeed a border where heaven and earth meet. If we can quiet our souls and be still, our soul will reflect the divine. And be not afraid if the suffering in your life puts you in a dark place. For the darker it is, the brighter the stars shine. It is in our darkest moments that we can see the light of Christ in all its glory and splendor.
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)