Hamlet: “To die, to sleep–No more–and by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.”
Hamlet, III.i.60-68 – Shakespear
Hamlet is tortured with the fear that there might not be peace even in death as he contemplates suicide. In that, Hamlet regards the result of death as a mystery. As it is to any mortal. What dreams may come does give pause. A pause, in particular, for him who is considering suicide. For we fear what may, if anything, lie beyond the grave. And, as well, fear that if there is an after, what place do we have in it? As we close our eyes to this world and cross the threshold of death, we wonder what our eyes may gaze upon. What we believe through faith or lack thereof determines whether we regard this world as playground or proving ground. Do we live solely to selfishly get all we want from it, or do we live to make the best life we can in spite of it? Do we tend toward vice or virtue?
It must be noted here. Though Hamlet speaks of suicide, there are obviously various means by which one’s life can be forfeited. One can have it taken from them. One can sacrifice one’s life in preserving the life of another. Or, one, as eluded to by Hamlet, can take one’s own life when life’s trials become too much to bear. This is sadly so among those who have not a true understanding of the cross.
What may heaven be like? Have you ever had a moment when all things were in balance? A moment of such relaxation and peace which detaches one from all surrounding environmental influences. A moment that you have tried to hold on to for as long as possible, forsaking all else; free of cares or responsibility. Where all senses including thought and spirit are as one. Yes, we all have. Now imagine that moment constant and raise it to the infinite. That is what heaven may be like.
Those entrancing moments are broken when balance is disturbed. A passing cloud casts a disruptive shadow. The present cooling breeze abates, increasing the temperature on the skin. A sudden sound breaks the calm or a pungent odor disturbs the symmetry. The senses once unified are now scattered. And we lie there with hope that if we are still that extraordinary peace and calm will return.
In such a blissful experience, as described, we are as new. In Christ’s declaration to Mary, His Mother, on the Via Dolorosa as he walked to His crucifixion; “Mother, watch as I make all things new,” is our affirmation that that moment of elevation is but a sample of an inconceivable newness which lies before us.
We, too, like Christ, will travel on our own road to death. We must suffer as our mothers did while bringing us into the world. And, likewise, must endure the struggle against death to this world, as in birth, when we reluctantly were forced to leave the comforting womb of our mothers. So we, too, then die as Christ. Yet we are told by Him that; “You will do what I have done.” Meaning that we will rise with him and one day, as He, be reunited with our uncorrupted bodies. For the cross is a necessary precursor to forgiveness which reopens the gates of heaven by the New Adam which were once sealed through the original sin of the First Adam.
As heaven will elevate to the infinite those temporary moments of absolute peace, comfort and joy experienced here on earth. So, also, do those who choose to bypass God’s mercy by not accepting the forgiveness won for them on Calvary will know the contrary. And that contrary, too, comes with its own infinity. Instead of elevating those wonderful moments, what is instead elevated is all which disrupts them. All the pain, sorrow, anxiety, suffering wrought by unforgiven sin by those who lack a likeness to Christ. That would be hell. We who choose to say to God: “No thanks,” find not saving mercy. For mercy comes not to those who do not ask it nor grant it.
Saint Tomas Aquinas, one of the greatest philosophical and theological minds in history, was blessed with a momentary glimpse of heaven. After his experience in which he witnessed what lies beyond the veil that separates this world from the next, Saint Thomas said: “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.”?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7
What dreams may come? In truth is in our hands. We have the will to choose and determine for ourselves the nature of that dream and make it reality. And it comes by faith acted upon. St. Thomas discovered that what St. Augustine had said was true;
Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.