In my old professor Paul Zahl’s latest work, “PZ’s Panopticon: an off-the-wall guide to world religion,” he offers a unique, personal, moving, and humorous reflection on world religion from the point of view of one who is near death (one who is out of body looking down at his body on the operating table). In doing this Zahl wishes to explore what the religions of the world offer someone who is in such a predicament (the predicament being death not only in the physical sense, but anytime life runs us over). Spurred on by his own personal crisis at the time, Zahl’s work asks some difficult questions of all religion, including Christianity.
This said, one of the most moving parts of the work occurs near the very end. Here Zahl offers a message to the man on the ceiling who is about to pass on into eternity. He writes:
“You are on your way, dear friend. What you just left is behind you now. You can leave it there. (God will take care of it all, together with the people you loved so much. There was one especially). You are going to where you will always be understood. Nothing you ever did and nothing you ever suffered was not understood. Every trip and every kiss was part of the plan. You are going to fly through the windshield that separates you from God. You are going straight there, in the blink of an eye. Listen: Perfect love casts out fear”
As I was reading this for the first time (and even now), I felt the same sort of visceral emotional reaction I had when I saw the final episode of “Lost” (spoiler alert) when all their struggles were redeemed in the light of eternity. It’s nice to be reminded of that from time to time. Therefore I just wanted to pass it along to you. Thanks Paul!