The Question St. Peter May Ask of You!
Just like they say in the Irish tales, At death, we must give Charon a coin to get me across. I didn't feel dead, but he looked at me like a piece of mortified meat.
I had heard that sometimes Charon makes a remark. Like they said "St. Peter at the Golden Gate" required a telling of your virtues and your faults. But the Romans took this from the Greeks, as many tales of facing judgment permeate ancient theologies. I was not only impressed, but overwhelmed. It was dark, but everything was glowing. And of course, I did not feel well.
He was an old man dressed in a loin cloth, and he seemed to have a pleasant disposition, but a deep hollow voice that echoed after he spoke. He had curly shoulder length hair. Every once in awhile, a liquid drop fell from his beard.
The soupy fog in the little gray wooden boat created a super present hellish thud as the oars moved. He looked over his shoulder just a bit, and the luminescence caught his jaw.
"Did you love who you were supposed to love?"
"I was damn near indiscrimate!"
"What does that mean? I loved lots and lots. I was damn near indiscriminate."
He chuckled disdainfully. "I been watchin'. (I think he changed dialects just for me). While you were being indiscriminate, you passed over several who really needed your love, man."
I rubbed my forearms. It was getting cold in the wet night air. "You mean the "little people"?
"You really are somethin'. You are all little people! Why do you think you're down here gettin' worked on? That very question condemns you. You obviously overlooked people you THOUGHT were the little people. Remember that "Good Samaritan" story from your tradition? There were a hundred of those people in your life. Actually 103, I think."
I feared with a knee-knocking unpleasantness. I felt he was after my skin. "Honest? Man. I thought I was like the "lovingest", nicest guy!"
"You're Full of It".
"You're full of it."
I tried to pay attention. But, I think I know what you mean. You pass over certain people and they are standing there just waiting for your attention. Then a little time passes, and they have gone out of your orbit, and then they are gone, and you are still loving the people who you want to love. And then, you get better at not paying attention to the "wounded guys", but somehow, you still fool yourself and call yourself a "Good Samaritan".
"Boy, you repent real good. Even that is an artifice!"
"Then there are those who aren't just standing there, their needs are crying out. They are crying out. There is real need pulsating away, and you are content with a "Hail, Fellow well met".
"You've heard all the stories haven't you?" I was feeling pretty dead. Then, I was, I guess.
Then he got to a speech I felt he had given before: "Oh, it's alright. That's why you get more than one life. Life is overwhelming, scary, intimidating, boring, sickening, and distracting. You souls who don't know your souls get lost in the physicality. You souls who do know you are souls get lost in your self righteousness. Then a whole bunch of you are confident and content because it feels better to be that way. And no one says you shouldn't. You just get your lessons up here, then you go back to learn new ones. No use to be despondent about not being perfect, when the very reason you are down here is because you are not perfect!"
"Yeah," I managed a tiny chuckle. I was getting the point. "We are not supposed to understand the depths of our lacks. We are supposed to walk around trying to positively accelerate the development of our soul, and yet know that there is so much more to be done."
The Boat Your Carcass Is In.
"Not many get that so quickly, especially in the boat your carcass is in. Having reincarnation means that every physical manifestation is a statement of renewal and salvation. Physical life is just damned hard you know?
"I was a son of a ------------ wasn't I?"
"You still are.
"What do you mean?"
Charon turned around and tipped the boat a bit, as his mighty muscular figure made the boat creak. "See those fireflies over there? They are telling me to send you back. They are pulling you back to help one more person. You have to find them."
"Oh crap." My spontaneous utterance told a big story. Part of me was ready to go, and part of me, of course, did not want to. I did not wish to say anything more.
"Do you know who you are talking to? You're gonna have to come back this way someday." He glanced again at the lightning bug fairies. Could be twenty more years though."
A Car Wreck
"Wow" I was impressed, but was distressed. I was in a car wreck and they had to carefully move my flesh from the mass of distorted metal. The idea of going back to that made me shudder.
Charon was a little more philosophical now. "Just means you have to learn more and help more. A lot of life, is good, but its also dangerous, you know what I mean?" Charon started turning the boat. I looked over at the fairies. They were flashing like the silent neon of a modern urban street, with a far off quiet buzz.. It was obviously his way of getting messages mid-crossing.
"Now don't get all giddy on me. You have been revived on the hospital bed. They are gonna be sending you home in a few days. Try to remember our little talk. You won't go to hell, if you don't, you just are going to have to do things over again. Repetition when you could be doing new stuff. That is the real hell, you know what I mean?
"This car wreck makes me a mess. If you wanted to get my attention, why this way? I hate to think about recovering."
Charon grinned: "You people. You think you are special, and you are. But you're not special from each other. The gods are trying to get your attention everyday. If you want to know, you were supposed to be the designated driver tonight --- but nooooooah. You were so beside yourself with that great promotion, you flirted with the new one. You know who I mean. And your wife is now at the hospital. You will recognize her. She is the one who is crying and the only one who really wants to look at you right now. Are you taking notes?
"Yeah, I am the wounded guy. I am now looking for a "Good Samaritan". Perhaps that is heaven's irony."
Charon groaned and smiled at the same time. "Perhaps."