I’m Still in Here.
Published:  02-10-2002
    A small voice within calls out, "Hey, I’m still in here!"  It’s tone is sometimes gleeful and sometimes forlorn.  It’s purpose serves as a reminder to self and others that we exist in the same dwelling place that became our home when we began mortal life.  It’s individual, exclusive, private and lonely.  No other, even an identical twin, came with us the instant we emerged and received that pat on the bottom to start us off on a materialistic adventure.  We are alone in our abode in spite of the nearness of our most beloved.  Only we know and feel the innermost thoughts, plans, aches and pains that decorate our habitat.
    When we were young, we functioned as a child.  As an adult, hopefully, we gleaned more insight and wisdom [see 1 Cor 13:11-13].  All the while, from novice to artisan, we forged our life in relation to the "outside" world and cultivated attitudes and habits that made us what we are in the inner sanctum.  Whether young or old, the voice continues to call out, "Hey, I’m still in here!"  One might assert that they are still the one who held you in his or her arms when you were an infant.  It’s still me!  Remember when you rushed over to comfort me when I suffered a great loss?  I’m still that person!  Do you recall that great vacation we had together so many years ago?  That’s me!  If I am disabled, disfigured and comatose, it’s still me in here and I can still send my love out to you.
    One beauty of valid love is that it is totally undetectable by any of the physical senses yet it is a reality that prevails before, during and after the great adventure we call life.  True love has no physical dimension or location in time -- it is the nature of spirit itself.  A dozen red roses does not constitute love; they can only signify love.
    They can also signify other things but the real intent is known only in the inner household of the sender.  I am still the same individual in here but how have I decorated my exclusive habitat?  In that place there are no secrets from self.  Have we built highways or barricades for self or others?  Have we developed attitudes and habits that cloak us in light or darkness?  Do we assist or inhibit the lives of others in a way that interferes with the path they came to trod [see John 8:15].  If we have built barricades, they can be removed only by self.  If we have acquired debilitating attitudes or customs, they can be "updated" only by self.  Is it dark inside, only self can open the blinds to allow the light to enter.  We have heard the statement:  "He is a self-made man."  In truth, that statement is valid for all of humanity that has entered physical life.  Forces and temptations may apply pressure but the ultimate decision is made in the protected privacy of the lonely habitat.
    When we depart that place, we depart alone as we entered.  No other can take those steps with us as we cross to the other side without suitcase or wallet.  Foreboding thoughts?  No, not in truth.  It is only the reality of our sojourn in the material world we temporarily call "home."  The safari in the wilderness has encompassed a multitude of events and people and, if we were fortunate, a beloved and a few who played a major role in our life.

    Who is that non-dimensional "me" that still dwells within this aging domicile?  Its real being is certainly not of the Time and Space arena.  I am the invisible driver of a temporary vehicle.  To the best of my ability I direct its path, provide its needs and may even throw in a few pleasant decorations.  When my vehicle becomes mired in the mud of life, I accept assistance from those sweet ones who are my partners in materiality.  That aid is greatly appreciated without shame because I have participated in life by helping my fellow travelers with their travel woes --- repairing a tire, providing some fuel or towing to the nearest service.
    Without Time there is no aging.  Without Space there is no physical structure.  My body does not have life unless I inhabit it  but it does have life as long as I dwell within --- and I‘m still in here.  My body function may deteriorate over Time because it is only a slave of materiality which must submit to Time and the aging process. The true self within will serve its intended purpose until it passes on to the "timeless arena" that some view simply as "history."
    But "history" is a reality that has gone before or there would be no "present."  Without the "present" there is no "future."  Yet all times and events contribute to the future and the totality is ever a part of the eternal whole --- the I AM [Exodus 3:13-14].  In 1998 I visited the land of my ancestry [Kirksville, MO] and journeyed to the various cemeteries in Adair, Putnam and Schuyler Counties.  My second cousin, John Sparks, took me to the gravesite of my great-great grandfather, John "Jack" Vincent [1806-1862], where we found the marker lying on its side.  We were determined to raise that marker to an upright position.  John pulled and wiggled the stone vigorously as I responded to an inspiration by kneeling down with my head at the bottom of the stone and calling out:  "OK grandpa, PUSH."  The marker came up slowly out of the ground.  Of course, my antics had nothing to do with the movement --- or did they?  Grandpa was still somewhere in eternity and we were dealing with the vehicle he used while he served his time in history.
    During the sojourn of my part of Time and Space I am at the helm of my carrier, riding the seas of fortune and misfortune as the winds bring them to me.  I am alone in the inner sanctum of my being where no other person knows my thoughts, feelings or hopes.  I must eat my own food, take my own medication and render my own decisions.  If the time comes when I am physically or mentally incapable of those responsibilities, other lovely travelers will see that the vehicle receives the proper care and attention so that it can still provide me with a living space --- but it will still be me sitting, perhaps silently, in the driver’s seat.
    The vehicle that serves as my dwelling place is the only vehicle that I can use.  It is mine exclusively and I can live in no other.  Neither can another inhabit my domain.  Organs may be exchanged and artificial parts may be implanted but organs and implements are only physically functioning parts of the vehicle.  They have no bearing on the reality of my being that lives in that vehicle.  Arms or legs can be removed, but the whole of myself will remain intact and complete.  If the motor is running, then I am still in there.  When I leave, the motor shuts down in spite of any efforts to keep it running.  To paraphrase an aging joke, "It ain’t over until the motor stops."  Then what?

    Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I also have a dream.  My vision is not of the material world but of that which provides sustenance to the material world.  To better understand the departure from materiality, we need to consider the source of the entering materiality.  A seed perpetuates the species of a plant.  But from what essence came the first seed?  In the realm of Time and Space there are continuous beginnings and endings.  What about that realm where Time and Space do not exist but the source that initiates Time and Space does eternally exist?  In our human frailty it is impossible to even imagine that which is beyond our material world [1 Cor 13:12].   We are best able to understand by analogies --- comparing to conditions in the physical environment.  Jesus of Nazareth spoke a dialect of Aramaic and in the custom of teaching in parables [stories to explain a message by analogy] [see Matt 13:34-35].  But we need to go beyond that and visualize, for ourselves, what is yet to come.
    The Book of Revelations is the only book of prophesy in the New Testament.  It is a complicated and mystic writing that defies absolute interpretation.  The heart of my "vision" is in the next to last chapter of Revelation [Rev 21:1-4].   Unfortunately I have no artistic talent or I would most surely put this impression on canvas.  Please understand that this description is purely imaginary.  It is still displayed as being in the Time and Space environment but in reality it is in an environment that has neither time nor space.  God’s judgment of individuals, I am certain, is much more lenient than many would think.  However, in keeping with Christian concepts and the Scripture, I have sought to provide for temporary and permanent punishment in a timeless and spaceless condition [which seems a bit ridiculous to me].
    By means of a symbolic materialistic fantasy, walk with me down a path that leads into a beautiful extensive valley with wondrous mountains in the background.  The path winds downward through beautiful shrubbery and flowers.  In the distance we see small cottages in the floor of the valley.  Our pathway goes by those cottages and on to the gates of a most awesome sight.  To the distant right there is a brilliant glow that has no glare.  It is a huge magnificent city that glows from within, even through the very walls that surround it.  There is no sound but, yet, there is music beyond compare.  We see no people but we are aware of the presence of a multitude of loving and happy "others" within that city.
    The cottages provide hospice to some who are not yet prepared to travel on to the city.  They are also loving but happiness eludes them because of the delay in their journey not yet finished.  Through regret, aiding others on the path and reconciliation they will earn entry to the city.
    In the distant mountains is a "burning pool of fire and sulfur [the second death]" which does not appear in my vision.  That grim condition is for those who are truly evil and are eternally banned from residing in the city.
    As we approach the city, the New Jerusalem, its splendor overwhelms us.  The Book of Revelation gives its measurements as being 1,500 miles on each side and 1,500 miles high surrounded by a wall 144 cubits [about 240 feet] high.  Each wall has three gates and the street is pure gold, transparent as glass.  This, of course, depicts the immensity and grandeur of what can be expected in that indescribable place.
    The interior conditions of the city is further described [Rev 21:22-27].  I see this as spiritual basking in the very presence of that which is our origin, strength and love.  It is the essence of the "within" where it is no longer being alone or being misunderstood.  It is without time; hence, no night or day.  It is without space because all things are One in an immeasurable infinity.  There is no evil or defilement because all that exists in this spiritual Kingdom reflects the very essence of pureness.
    Does this means we are now confined to this walled city?  By no means because "confinement" means restriction and imprisonment, terms that apply to materiality.  If we go from the city to another place, does that result in leaving behind the bliss in which we dwelt?  Never, because we take our portion of that infinite bliss with us without actually leaving.  Again, "leaving" implies a physical condition.  We can be wherever we wish to be while still having with us that which we have been given.  Likewise, those we love can also be with us in that blissful state.  Our existence is liberated and expanded beyond measure.
    It is the place where we can truly say --- Hey, I’m in here!
by Richard C. Vincent [Febuary 2002]