Only love can move effectively across boundaries and across cultures. Love is a very real energy, a spiritual life force that is much more powerful than ideas or mere thoughts. Love is endlessly alive, always flowing toward the lower place, and thus life-giving for all, exactly like water. In fact, there is no form of life that does not need water. No wonder water is such a universal spiritual symbol.
When you die, you are precisely the capacity you have developed to give and to receive love. Your recognition of this is your own “final judgment” of yourself, which means you become responsible for what you now see—not shamed or even rewarded, but just deeply responsible. Not surprisingly, this seems to be the universal testimony of people who have gone through near-death experiences—and returned to tell about them.
If you have not received or will not give this gift of love to others, your soul remains tied to a small, empty world which is probably what we mean by hell. God can only give love to those who want it.
If you still need to grow in love and increase your capacity to trust Love, God makes room for immense growth surrounding the death experience itself, which is probably what we mean by purgatory. Time is a mental construct of humans. Why would growth be limited to this part of our lives? God and the soul live in an eternal now.
If you are already at home in love, you will easily and quickly go to the home of love, which is surely what we mean by heaven. There the growth never stops and the wonder never ceases. If life is always change and growth, eternal life must be infinite possibility and growth!
So by all means, every day, and in every way, we must choose to live in love—it is mostly a decision—and even be eager to learn the ever deeper ways of love—which is the unearned grace that follows from the decision!
I can only end with Pope Francis’ plea and question from “The Joy of the Gospel”: “So what are we waiting for?”