Okay, so Forrest Gump, and common cliché tell you life is like a box of chocolates. But, I think the box of chocolates is more like heaven, and our life on earth is more likened to canned peaches. Chocolate is always good, and peaches can come with bruises. And the season for fresh peaches is so short.
Things in our life can feel that way too. Like how fast our babies grow, how soon they head off to college and adult life. Our loved ones get sick. We want to hold onto people – and aspects of our lives — longer than we ever get to. Yes, life is full of changes – transitions which can be abrupt or subtle. Change is hard because we are forced to veer from what we’re used to, what we’ve come to expect. The unexpected causes anxiety and fear.
Raising our heads above the tree line, so to speak, is essential. Ultimately, the path we’re on leads to one destination: heaven. Such is our hope. Heaven is real, where we hope to all be together – in our true home.
But it’s hard to keep heaven before our busy eyes. And it’s easy to feel a disconnect between our earthly journeys and our heavenly quest. How can we really “get it” about how to live with our eyes on heaven?
The day’s needs are always greater than the amount of time and energy to meet them. Keeping the domestic front on an even keel, guiding our children, working our jobs, paying our bills, keeping in touch with our family and friends – so much to do, with rarely the feeling of “being done,” complete, finished – in short, accomplished in something.
I have a friend who has 9 children. One day, when I visited, I glimpsed up on a high shelf and saw a few filled canning jars. I thought: Oh, how nice she has relatives who own a farm and can share their canning efforts. A couple of weeks later I visited again. This time the upper shelf was bulging with canned items. I was shocked: Did you actually can those, I feebly asked.
“You bet,” she replied. “At the end of the day — after I’ve changed diapers that get soiled again, cleaned children who get dirty again, feed children who get hungry again, settle squabbles that break out in fights again, pay bills that become due again, tidy the house that gets messy again, empty the garbage that becomes full again – I can look up on my shelf and see that I actually accomplished something that day.”
Prayers and Peaches
Our prayers, sacrifices and good works are kind of like those fresh (perishable) peaches, transformed through the canning process. Wax seals the canning jar, and Our Lord – the host of heaven – covers, sanctifies and strengthens us. This seals our daily lives into the firmament of heaven. The divine preservative added to our humble offerings last. We build up and add to our treasure in heaven.
My friend’s jars of peaches, of course, don’t last forever. But they do last well beyond their natural, earthly life-span. So do we. Our lives may last longer than the life of a peach, and some do not. Our time on earth is not ours to know. What changes tomorrow is not ours to know.
What we do know is that the Creation, though perishable, is good. We know that Grace is the preservative that keeps us alive and close. And we know that, when our earthly freshness expires, we transition to eternal life in heaven.
Botox for Shriveled Peaches?
But what if something was missed in the purification (sterilization) process, and some bacteria entered in? To keep the analogy going: The white robe of baptism, when we are freed from Original Sin, is like the clean jar. We become vessels of Grace, ready to embrace all the joys and sufferings of this life, one with our Lord.
However, our sins are like foreign bacteria entering our once-clean jars. Frequenting Confession for mortal sin, with Mass and Holy Water for venial sin are essential to keep us fresh and preserve us for Heaven. It’s the work of a lifetime. We are fresh and pure, and then sink into rottenness and experience bruises. Such is the character of earthly life.
When we humble ourselves and ask forgiveness – through the Church who holds the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven – then our bruises heal and we become new again. Like Botox for the soul, God plumps us back up. And, with each prayer, sacrifice, experience and forgiveness-treatment we become transformed. Our bodies may wrinkle, but our souls striving for God remain eternally young.
Peach not only refers to fruit. A person who is considered “a peach,” is one who is specially liked. Remember that you are a peach in the eyes of our loving Father. Keep that in mind as you suffer bruises, go through periods when you feel rotten or face hard things. Grace will preserve you for that eternal home, where the Body of Christ will sing unending praises and live together in the eternal embrace of a never-ending love. Keep that sweet taste for heaven alive in all you do.