People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
“Hoooooeeeeee, Auntie J!” The squeal startled everyone in the small pub at the base of the ski slopes. “I just had the best downhill run EVER! I mean, EVER!” Her rosy red face would’ve shamed any self-respecting beet. Her windswept tousled hair could’ve won the gold over Rapunzel’s best bed-head. And the grin on her face had the worms in the tequila bottles coming to take a look. That contagious beam sparkling from her ebullient eyes and cheeks spread like pixie dust in a windstorm and immediately had every face in the tavern shifting into smirk, smiles and even a few snorts and snickers.
Amanda Jane, ignoring threats of truancy violations, had absconded with Abigail, her 17 year-old niece, for a little winter break. “There are things far more important than school, my dears,” Amanda Jane had told Abigail and her mother. “And a little downhill on some fresh powder may well be one of those things.” The mother conceded.
The first day out, Auntie J had twisted her ankle in her attempt to do a little freestyle. So, now, sitting in the pub with an ankle wrap and a hot rum something-or-other, she was overjoyed to hear Abigail’s triumphant announcement. “I mean, I’ve had thrilling things in my life before,” Abigail breathlessly gushed, “like that first time I went parasailing or made the Dean’s list in school or like on Christmas morning as a kid. I remember being so excited when Jacob asked me out. He is so cute! I’ve had so many exhilarating things in my life, Auntie J; but this one! Oh my God! This one! Had to be the best. Can I have a sip of your drink?”
Amanda Jane’s grin grew even bigger as she slid the steaming rum over to her. Abigail took a sip. “Whoo!” she said with a rummy smile. “One of the things I love about you, Auntie J, is that you’re OK with breaking rules.”
“As with school, some things are more important than rules,” Amanda Jane whispered. “Anything that makes you feel fully alive – as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone – anything that hooks you up to joy and ecstasy trumps rules or school any time. Of course, school can serve up the joy as well, now can’t it? I remember you calling me on several occasions to tell me some amazing fact you had discovered in science class or some poem you read that swept you off your feet. You can never tell when or where life will reach out to you and remind you how good it is to be alive. Even in school.”
“I’ve never told anyone this,” Abigail scooted closer to her aunt, “but whenever I kiss Jacob, I feel like I’m flying to the moon. I mean, I really feel like I’m soaring through the stars. But, there are other things that get me feeling that way, too. Like when I go in to volunteer at the children’s hospital. Just playing with those kids gets me all flibberty-jibberty. It feels like magic.”
Abigail stopped a waiter and asked him to refill her cup and to bring her niece a hot virgin drink. “Can I still have another sip of yours?” Abigail asked after the waiter had left the table.
Amanda Jane slid the drink to her. “One more,” she advised. She looked lovingly at her niece. “There are so many ways to feel euphoria, Sweet Abigail… so many ways in this life to connect,” she said. “There are some Christians who believe that when Jesus comes, the ones who believe in him will be taken up into heaven and the rest of us will be left on the earth. They call it ‘The Rapture.’ But I’ve always had the idea that rapture is built into life and that everyone can tap into it. Everyone can fly to heaven and back. And,” she said as she reached over to hold her niece’s hand, “I think that when you love like Jesus taught, you open yourself totally to the rapture of being alive. Being fully alive. I think Jesus knew that.”
The two breathed deeply, let a big sigh, lifted their drinks and Amanda Jane toasted, “To love, to life, to skiing and to Jacob.” Abigail giggled.