Last month, I took a trip to California to visit my favorite Aunt, Sister Adrian Marie Conrad, S.P. She is a Sister of Providence from Terre Haute, Indiana. Although it only lasted four days (two of which were for travel), it was very memorable.  You see, Sister Adrian Marie is 97.  The family did not want to wait until a funeral to meet together, so we decided to meet before both of us finish our journey on earth.

I bring this up because, on the way out to see Sister, I did Lectio Divina in the airplane. All of my Lectio reading (or thinking, in my case) comes from Philippians 2:5. These are my thoughts.

This is a great trip to California. I had no hassle with luggage because I carried my overnight bag with enough stuff for two days. I wondered what it would be like to carry my lifetime bag when I die. What would I take to Heaven with me, given God’s mercy on this broken-down, old Lay Cistercian? I would take the following item.

THE GOLDEN THREAD — I received the Golden Thread when I was baptized (September 29, 1940,) at 1:00 p.m. in Vincennes, Indiana. I did not know it until much later in life, actually when I was 70 years old, but the Golden Thread binds all things together and these I can take with me to Heaven. It is this sense that I can take all of my pets with me to Heaven. The Golden Thread links all my life experiences that I have identified as being a thought, word, or deed leading from self to God.  In English, that means I can thread the delicate rays of the morning sun on the green leaves in Tallahassee to the goodness and greatness of the Creator. The only thing this thread will not penetrate is sin and unauthentic love. What I thread with my Golden Thread will be the context of my Heaven. To the extent that I have loved others as Christ has loved us, my reward will be complete.

I have used the Golden Thread to bind the following:

  • All my family, friends, those who have asked for my prayers
  • Those who are my enemies, have hurt me, have spoken evil of me because of my faith
  • Handel’s Messiah
  • Everything I have ever thought about that has brought me closer to the mind of Christ Jesus, even if I can’t remember it now
  • All my pets and animals that have reminded me that, like Adam and Eve, I am created to take care of the Garden of Eden
  • All the Benedictine and Trappist monks that have taught me to be patient, humble and obedient to those who represent Christ on earth
  • All my teachers who are nuns and those in college and university for their patience with me as one who is in process of gaining knowledge, love, and service
  • All military chaplains
  • All priests, ministers, and rabbis with whom I have exchanged thoughts about the Oneness of God.
  • All the saints and Saints, who have inspired me to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus
  • All the sights, sounds, smells of the fresh morning, sunsets in the evening, where I silently marveled at the goodness of God
  • In reparation for the hurt, I have caused God by my insensitivity to doing his will as found in Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule.
  • DD214, just in case

What have you packed in your suitcase for the trip to eternity? One of the most beautiful expressions of what lies ahead is not even from our Christian tradition but comes from Egyptian mythology. It is about Osiris.

When someone dies, as I have learned it, you die and go to the nether world of darkness to await being brought into the light. Before you can begin your life in the light, Osiris, god of the nether world takes your heart with all its imperfections and places it on a scale. He takes a single feather and places it on the other side of the scale. If your heart is as light as a feather, you can proceed to the light. That may be why the Egyptians left the heart in the mummified body and did not put it in a Canopian jar with the rest of the organs.

I have always liked that story. To make your heart as light as a feather means you must not take yourself too seriously but do God’s will, not your own.  For me, that means receiving the Eucharist, Lectio Divina, Divine Office, Spiritual Reading, and Rosary as often as I can. For me, it means that I avail myself of the gifts that God Himself gave those still remaining on earth to help them in their struggle to keep their hearts light, i.e., the Eucharist, Forgiveness of Sins, Penance, Repentance, and the Sacraments.

It is not too late to lighten your burden of stuff that you have accumulated over the years. In any event, you would probably not make it through security with St. Peter.

That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

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