Meaning of Yesterday
"All endings are just beginnings. We
just don't know it at the time..."
This is one of the punch lines of an original
novel, The Five People You Meet In Heaven,
I have just read. I got the book from Pope
John Paul The Great Bookshop at Agana Shopping
Eddie, a rather sour old man, dies tragically
in a seaside amusement park. He wakes up
in heaven. But it is not the lush Garden
of Eden he always imagined. First, he has
to go though a journey of enlightenment.
He meets five people who have been waiting
for him and who explain to him the meaning
of the events that happened in his life.
So many of us live an embittered life because
we feel that life has been unjust to us.
We do not understand why the things that
happened to us should have happened to us.
We want life differently. Somehow we feel
we deserve better without recognizing the
obvious, namely that life is pregnant with
a wisdom that comes from above. Happiness
starts when we start reconciling ourselves
with life the way it is.
Take the example of Sister Michelle Mohr.
From the time she was a little girl, her
mother taught her there was a God. And there
was a heaven. And she would go there one
So Sister Michelle, 44, is not afraid to
die. She lives in a cloistered community.
Cloistered means a convent reserved just
for the sisters - a place where they are
free to pray and draw closer to Jesus away
from the hoopla of the world. Like our Carmelite
Sisters in Maloloj.
In August of last year, five years after
she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer,
her doctors gave her a choice. She could
have more chemo; it would slow the spread
of the tumors but it would not cure her.
Or she could be made comfortable until her
death. She chose the latter. "Chemo
and I don't get along", she comments
with a smile.
It was not easy. The fear of death is inside
us. It took her a week to find peace with
the idea of dying. "It's what I call
my agony in the garden." After that
her heart opened. "It was an opportunity
that I have been given. A time for preparation."
A special bed with buttons that make the
bed go up and down, a wheelchair, the medicine
were all moved in. A special permission was
given to her mother so that she could come
and live inside the cloistered area.
"I am surrounded by gifts", she
always remarks. She makes prayer books and
fills the pages with her favorite prayers.
"Don't worry! I don't say them all every
day!!" She is so full of humor.
On the front page of this prayer book, there
is a picture of boy named Nathan. She never
met him. He had a brain tumor and died six
years ago. She reads the prayer he wrote,
"Lord, take my soul to that awesome
place so that I will see your holy face..."
"No life is a waste. The only time we
waste is the time we spend thinking we are
alone", writes Albom in the book I mentioned.
She enjoys saying stories. Sister Serena
was still a novice and she wanted badly to
see the volley ball match between the K-State
Wildcats and the Lady Huskers. "Do you
think we can get tickets?" the novice
asked eagerly Sister Michelle. "Have
faith," the later answered. "If
Mary can have Jesus turn that water into
wine, she can help us get volleyball tickets."
They got the tickets...
"What is heaven like?" many ask
her. "I do not know because I have not
been there yet, but I suppose it is a place
filled with what people are searching for
- love. We shall meet true love for the first
I am sure Sister Michelle understands perfectly
what Albom wrote in his book. "Sacrifice
is part of life. It's supposed to be. It's
not something to regret. It's something to
aspire to. Little sacrifices. Big sacrifices.
A mother works so her son can go to school.
A daughter moves home to take care of her
sick father. ...
When you sacrifice something precious, you
are not really losing it. You are just passing
it to someone else"
She invites the sisters to come and see her.
"Have I done anything I need to apologize
for?" she asks... It is very important,
she feels, to leave this earth reconciled
She is ready to die. "Dying, is it the
end of everything?" asks Albom again.
"We think it is. But what happens on
earth is only the beginning. I figure it's
like in the Bible, the Adam and Eve deal.
Remember Adam's first night on earth? When
he lay down to sleep? He thinks it's all
over, right? He doesn't know what sleep is.
His eyes are closing and he thinks he's leaving
this world, right? Only he isn't. He wakes
up the next morning and he has a fresh new
world to work with, but he has something
else, too. He has his yesterday. Perhaps
that's what heaven is. You get to make sense
of your yesterday's."
Life has to end. Love does not.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright