faith of family / Here and Now - reflection from Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen

Eternal Life. Where is it? When is it? For a long time I have thought about eternal life as a life after all my birthdays have run out. For most of my years I have spoken about the eternal life as an "afterlife," as "life after death." But the older I become, the less interest my "afterlife" holds for me. Worrying not only about tomorrow, next year, and the next decade, but even about the next life seems a false preoccupation. Wondering how things will be for me after I die seems, for the most part, a distraction. When my clear goal is the eternal life, that life must be reachable right now, where I am, because eternal life is life in and with God, and God is where I am here and now.

The great mystery of the spiritual life - the life in God - is that we don't have to wait for it as something that will happen later. Jesus says: "Dwell in me as I dwell in you." It is this divine in-dwelling that is eternal life. It is the active presence of God at the center of my living - the movement of God's Spirit within us - that gives us the eternal life.

But still, what about life after death? When we live in communion with God, when we belong to God's own household, there is no longer any "before" or "after." Death is no longer the dividing line. Death has lost its power over those who belong to God, because God is the God of the living, not the dead.

When eternal life is our clear goal it is not a distant goal. It is a goal that can be reached in the present moment. When our heart understands this divine truth, we are living the spiritual life.

- Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Here and Now