The priests, sisters, and brothers I knew through church and school taught me about this thing they called eternal life. After I die, they told me, I'll live forever and ever in some other form of life beyond this one. It sounded pretty cool, and still does. Eternal life after death, with no more death to come? Sounds cool--sign me up!
But then I looked up the word eternal, and realized something that's eternal has no beginning or end. If it has no beginning, that means I'm already there. Eternity is already here. And if eternity is already now, then I'm already living my eternal life!
So I really started thinking about this, especially as I began writing books about Heaven. If we're already living our one, eternal life, then who we really are is this perfect, spiritual soul. Who we really are is the angel we will one day be, and that reality, in an eternal picture that's not tangled up by the constraints of time and space, is already ours. Eternal life is now. Heaven is already here. The angel we will be is already within us.
"Wait just a second," you say, "I'm no angel, and I'd be willing to bet that my family and friends would agree." Well, yeah, we're not fully realized--fully actualized as Abraham Maslow would say--but we're no less the spiritually perfect being we will always be. Our potential for perfection is there before we take our first step, before we speak our first word, before we even take our first breath. Moreover, that potential begins again every moment of every day of our lives.
Eternal life, if you truly believe, has already begun. It isn't some idealized reality we hope to achieve. By believing ourselves to be only human, we settle for something far less than our divine potential. By pointing to eternal life as something faraway we'll just reach when this body dies and our soul moves on, we're acting as if eternity has yet to begin.
This is a lie we tell ourselves. It is a lie we accept because it's easy, as is the truth of our goodness, and the potential we have for perfection. We accept less than our angelic future because we tell ourselves this life is about struggle and learning, not for reaching and discovering higher plains of existence. We lie to ourselves, and we settle on less than our full potential every day of our lives.
The angel inside us, the perfect soul God already loves in every which way, is already there, already waiting to burst forth like a butterfly from the cocoon of this human life. We need only begin living this life like the angel we are called to be, to see this truth realized. We need only hold our head up high with divine confidence (the word means "with faith") to see all souls as our sisters and brothers, as fellow parts of the purest divine energy.
So if you believe in eternity, and you believe in this eternal life waiting for us all, then begin to live that part of your permanent self. Begin seeing the angel within you, the perfect soul God knows you already are. Give yourself permission to graduate the spiritual classes you think you still need to take. Give yourself permission to live like an angel. Be your eternal soul. Become the angel you already are.
Sean Patrick Brennan is an author, essayist, and part-time angel from Malverne, New York. His newest book, The Papal Visitor, is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Papal-Visitor-Sean-Brennan-ebook/dp/B00IX76TGQ.