T-minus Life

Ark of the Covenant
Images Courtesy of Pixabay and Edited by the Author

It’s only when we’re terminal that we give Life the respect it deserves.

Terminal velocity is when you’ve reached the point that you cannot fall any faster as opposed to the medium you’re falling through — 

 — when the air around you gets real. So thick it’s just like you’re standing with your feet back on the ground.

I titled my first book Life’s a JOKE! (now out-of-print) on the premise that you can prevent yourself from negatively affecting your experience by first taking things as a joke and working from there. But there is a big difference between taking things lightly and playing too much!

I was working as an EMT in Florida when I parked the ambulance curbside at the bus station. The call had come in as an eighteen-year-old-male that had his throat slit.

Blood was everywhere, but the guy was sitting on the curb when we arrived, keeping his head on his shoulders by gripping handfuls of neck-skin on each side.

He was literally, holding the ear-to-ear razor-blade cut closed with both hands
and through clenched teeth said, “It’s okay. If I keep my chin tucked down like this and keep pinching the skin together, I’m good.”

Then he laughed, as my partner and I looked at each other in utter helplessness.

“I’m gonna get that guy,” the soon to be dead-man said, “I shouldn’t have talked to his girl that way, he was just playing with me — ”

We stared on while my brain worked at what trauma dressings were going to best occlude a slit throat without impeding his breathing.

Was that important?
Really, keeping enough blood in his body to get him to the hospital was probably the highest priority.

“ — He’s my friend,” the man continued, briefly taking his hand from the wound and letting a thick waterfall of plasma pulse down the front of his tank top.

“No. No. Don’t do that!” barked my partner, unsure whether to grab the now gaping flesh for the guy.

“Jus — Just keep holding yourself together while you talk man… both hands,” I suggested, miming for him animatedly.

“Yeah okay,” he says, pinching the skin back together. “It’s really okay, just a joke that went too far, but I’ll get him back.”

At that point my partner and I were thinking the same thing.

It was one of those circumstances when all bets are off and the only thing you can do is think like the guy that’s holding himself together.

-Get the guy in the ambulance the best way he can manage
-Remind him to hold his neck closed
-Start toward the ER lights and sirens

There’s a saying in pre-hospital emergency medicine:

The best treatment for some people is high-flow diesel.

I knew it well, but I also knew that if I took a corner too hard or hit the breaks too stiffly, it might inadvertently make the guy let go of his throat and grab for an oh-shit handle. So it was really a fine marriage of speed and super-wide awareness.

Thank God for air horns!

To my astonishment, when we arrived at the ER the man was still laughing! A bit hoarsely, but only because his trachea was surely traumatized.
We wheeled him gently but quickly into the bay.

When we put him next to the hospital bed, you could feel the dread of all of the trauma nurses in the room.

Immediately, we could tell that the injured man was the only one making light of the situation.

Without a moment to breathe, the surgeons grabbed the sheets and yanked him over to the bed, causing the man to let go of his wound and his neck to yawn in all its glory. Like a wet and ragged break in a pinata full of red-hots.

Then all the nurses went haywire as the guy tried to get the injury under control again. He went onto survive the incident, thanks to quick surgery, but

His positive attitude and taking things as a joke kept that boy alive beyond all else, I have no doubt.

I recently found a bump that might turn out to be cancer.
I’m trying to be like our character in the story above and laugh about it.

Somehow, I thought the damn thing up. So, isn’t there a way I can think it away?

It kinda reminds me of when Andy Kaufman jet-setted the world looking for voodoo cures for his cancer only to turn out their secrets and ruin their effects.

I mean, if he knew they weren’t going to work, why would they, right?

You know, I have been thinking a lot about purgatory.

People who kill themselves are suppose to end up there in order to be cleansed by the fire of the holy spirit.
Well that’s what I’ve read.

Also, I have heard that purgatory is kind of an in-between space. Neither Heaven nor H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

But then I also heard that it is eternal.
I’d say I’m getting to the bottom of this, but we know words have power and I’m uncertain that the bottom of this is anywhere I’d like to go.

But, we all kinda kill ourselves in some small ways, which are hard to admit. Then we also do it in big ways that are just downright obvious.
So maybe we all are gonna experience a little bit of this religious anomaly in some form or another.

Might as well educate ourselves.
So, walk with me through the valley of death and fear no evil,

la te da te do…

I’m kinda getting the feeling that purgatory is like getting stuck between two religions and never being able to find an answer.

Which can be enlightening to witness, because it reveals to us the nature of our own true selves.

What do we say and who do we say it to? That is the question.

Respect. It comes down to that.

Who do we respect? Which religious leaders?

Ourselves? Everyone? No one?

Surely God.

Elders of all sorts?

Anyone who dishonors father or mother must be put to death. Exodus 21:17

Who’s been guilty of this?

Let’s at least praise the Lord for Jesus who we sacrificed to be forgiven of such things!

But before Jesus and everything, what was God all about?

I mean, all these weird sacrifices, and laws about slaves and women, and crops… and what does he do with 22,000 purified, washed, and shaven Levites?

It really seems God was just trying to figure things out for himself. Like he was running these simulations on what would work and actually considering our feedback.
OUR feedback.

Well, those of us who didn’t seem to be too outrageously over selfish, self-defeating, or just plain dumb. And at times, yes, even those people!
Of course they didn’t know how lucky they were.

God was genuinely getting irritated with his creations! But at that point, all of his creations were just part of him, and he had no one else to listen to but his own little pieces.

Really ask yourself, if you were going to ask your own kids for advice, and that’s all you had to choose from, which ones would you ask? The ones who’ve been obedient, or the ones who always seem to have their own agendas?

And if you’re God, why would you make them to where they could have their own agenda to begin with? But, I guess it makes sense if you see we are made to reflect his existence.

Of course there were trial runs! They are gonna sound crazy because we, as in God and us, had no idea what we were doing yet!

HELL! We still don’t!

But in the beginning we were constantly stepping into holy crap.
A mess of it!

Perhaps, these were all the things he was imagining. All the things he was watching play out in his head before he really committed to it, because he knew when he made it physical there would only be one chance.
That might make me feel better…
But I have the feeling all this was real only because there was no way we could ever experience and know what is right without ever experiencing what is wrong.

Was there only one chance? Or was it, and is it, a do-over and over kinda thing? A permanent escalating groundhog’s day?

I mean, all those people who followed Moses out of Egypt and then complained when it got hard, and God scorched them… utterly destroyed them because he was tired of their not seeing him as the one who would eventually provide.

Really, those people… I get it, they were the weakest links and all, but when he scorched them, our GOOD GOD scorched them to death, wasn’t he really just sending them to the only other place available?
AKA Heaven and back to him completely.

Thus far I’ve read that, he divided the deep into the waters of Heaven and Earth, and he’s been doing a lot of creating and killing. But all this stuff he made from his own parts —  really, it’s gotta either be here or there.

Either on Earth or in Heaven. Looking up at his cleansing fire as it hovered over the Ark of the Covenant, or within that flame after being consumed by it?

So the way I see it is, he’s just blastin’ folks with the label of you are either Rule Followers, or Rule Makers.

The whole time one can’t see within the other is the real golden rule.
Which is why there’s so much gold, I guess.

When the Lord made the promise to our ancestors he fully intended to keep it, and he has!

But it’s obvious that it wasn’t easy. He had to recycle a lot of his people to get us this far.

And I would say that it hurt him to do so, but with every hurt, he smiles on them and blesses them in Heaven and sends them back to Earth, if they so desire, to perform more miracles.

He is a future making machine, the only way he knows how, by creating people who will obey his laws as he writes them fitfully.

The real widow maker of a question is:

Is God still manufacturing people who are gonna be blasted for his own good? Are we one of those people?

Are you one of the people he’s gonna make an example out of so that the rest of us can enjoy, what? Everlasting obedience. And he, unlimited shaven and oiled worshipers, with an abundance of flour and gold?

This is really me just being my larger than life exaggerating self.
I do kinda see that there is a dichotomy here. That if you are the obedient, then you elevate to more of a Jesus/Moses level and you don’t have to worry about getting scorched because everything is just being created by you and God in righteousness — I guess.

But until you’re there you’re gonna feel like Moses with all the followers; stressed out and held responsible for their salvation. Then when your knees start to buckle, hopefully he offers to split your overwhelming load with others.

Is this how God’s existence is? Always under the threat of ending? If we were made in his likeness, I suppose it is, or at least was at one time.

Our only hope lies in the understanding that God is eternal, so we too might one day be as lucky.

I’m only through Deuteronomy, so I am sure I will change my views between now and the end but,

If I had to break it all down into a simple understanding of what the bible thus far is trying to portray, I would have to say:

Unless you live righteously, you will never get the privilege of everlasting life.

Realistically, that just means there is a recipe to immortality that must be followed. And if you look at it and consider…
There is also a recipe for fresh baked bread. If you don’t follow it to a tee, and say, open the oven too early, it’ll collapse before it’s got a chance to fully rise.

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Jay Horne is an author and publisher out of Bradenton, Florida. He is a husband and father of four.
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