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From Here to Eternity

According to our Sages, forever is how long your soul sits in Heaven reaping the rewards it earned for doing good while it was in this world. Since everyone has their own idea about how long “forever” is, let’s see if we can visualize it. We’ll take it step by step.

First think about a minute.

You’re sitting in the dentist’s chair and he tells you, “Don’t worry, this will only take a minute”.  Seems to take forever, doesn’t it?  But yet, it’s only sixty ticks of your Timex.  What about an hour? Sixty times longer than a minute and probably how long you were sitting in the waiting room waiting for the dentist in the first place.

A day – sometimes it can seem to fly by, but if you’re stuck in the house on a rainy afternoon with a nagging child (or spouse), it can seem to drag on forever.

Next.  You go on a job interview. It’s the perfect job – great salary, big office, full benefits.  You want it like crazy.  The boss says, “We’ll call you next Monday and let you know”.  One week later. First you count the days, then you count the hours.  Also seems like forever, no?

Then you get the job.  It’s everything you hoped it would be.  A year passes full of challenges and achievements. You think back on all of the things that happened in the last 365 days. It seems like such a long time, but one year doesn’t even approach “forever”.

Jump ahead twenty years, thirty years. Children are born, they graduate high school, get married, have children of their own.  You’ve taken 60 vacations, 117 sick days, had your office and home redecorated eight times, grew a beard, shaved it off, ate 33,000 meals. And you still haven’t passed half of your lifetime - which is certainly still very far from “forever”.

But now that you have some perspective about what a “long time” is, let’s get serious about trying to understand “forever”.

Imagine a pile of beach sand, a mile high and two miles wide.  And a bird flies by and takes one grain of sand and drops it into the ocean.  And then he comes back and takes another grain of sand – one thousand years later.  (That’s about ten lifetimes in between each grain of sand).

Try now to imagine how long it might take to finish transferring the entire mountain of sand into the ocean, one grain at a time, one thousand years apart. But no cheating – don’t just calculate how many grains of sand you think there are times a thousand years, start all over again from the one minute drill in the dentist’s chair.

That approaches visualizing what forever means, but that’s still not what forever is. Because even when the whole mountain has been finished, forever has not even begun.

Just one act of kindness can earn you a “forever”. Imagine the intensity of that forever as a reward for a lifetime of kindness. (I’ll leave that visualizing up to you).

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by   Max Anteby

Comments icon February 5, 2011


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