Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try.
No hell below us. Above us, only sky.
Imagine all the people Livin’ for today.
Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion, too.
Imagine all the people Livin’ life in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will be as one.
– John Winston Lennon (1940-1980), from “Imagine” (1971)
All of humankind has every reason to grieve as we consider that year-325 fork in the road that sadly never was taken. Burdened as we all have been by the almost continuous wars and the senseless restrictions imposed on us by Western civilization, and burdened as we all still are by the Roman Emperor Constantine’s bloody Christianity, I think we always have known, at least on some level, that there must have been some better way! From my own perspective, I am finding that it is only now, after my two dear friends have spent that one week taking me back to visit again the place that I had almost forgotten, with people living free of restraints who never had heard of Jesus but who nevertheless were living as if He walked among them, that I even can begin to make some sense of the exotic Atlantican way of life. But might Atlantica ever have been in any sense real?
And that was the most amazing thing about it for me. Back in the early Seventies, I remember now that I found the whole Atlantican way of life to be so flat-out strange that it didn’t seem real, and I never connected it with Jesus at the time. And yet, by 1975 or so, after I had spent years of floundering, my experimenting with trying to reinvent civilization had at last settled down and begun to be stable. And it had become so detailed by then that it had on some level begun to seem like an actual place. But the people on Atlantica just kept on doing things that simply still confound me. Back in the Seventies, when I thought that I was inventing Atlantica all on my own, only about half of this made any sense to me at all. And I had no idea where most of these ideas were coming from. But as I shortly will tell you, I realize now that Atlantica was not after all my own invention. Here it all is again, in summary:
… All of which brings us to this past Tuesday. By then, we had written just the first two paragraphs as a lead-in to a post about Jesus’s year-325 road not taken, which is what we now plan to use as our topic for next week. Because sometimes, reality will intervene. Our blog-writing generally begins in earnest on Wednesdays, since Thomas is our lead writer and he seldom steps in to help until then. But I had been having severe pains in recent weeks, like knives in the middle of my chest and back, and pains that extended down both arms and sometimes recurred when I was trying to sleep. When I mentioned these pains to my retired-pathologist husband, he insisted that I have a physical exam right away that included an EKG. So I did that on Tuesday morning, and the nurse practitioner said I was fine. On Tuesday afternoon I had more pain, so Edward then told me to call their office again. When they suggested I just go to an emergency room, he demanded that they give me a referral to a cardiologist, stat, and they did that. And when the cardiologist’s office heard my symptoms, they told me to come in for a better electrocardiogram first thing Wednesday morning.
The definitive sort of electrocardiogram is now electronic and nuclear. Who knew? It is done first at rest, and then done a second time after physical activity that is chemically simulated to be more taxing than it actually is. I had a Zoom meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, so we couldn’t wait for the test results. Edward and I raced home through a rainstorm while we talked about all the reasons why we were sure this was going to turn out to be nothing, as you always do. But it was not nothing. The cardiologist soon called me, sounding stressed. He said, “Your result was abnormal. Take four baby aspirins and do nothing to bring on that pain! Nothing to eat or drink after midnight. Be at Heart Hospital of Austin at five tomorrow morning.” I said, “Um, What?” Edward was standing in my office doorway. He said, ‘Just say, “Yes.”’ And so I did.
It is fortunate that we live just twenty minutes away from the best cardiac hospital in Texas, and one of the best in the country. Because goodness knows for how long one of my coronary arteries had been gradually filling with junk. When the cardiac surgeon later showed me my “before” photo, that coronary artery was officially 95% blocked, but it looked to be more like 99% blocked. My god, what an amazing picture! My husband is convinced that it is only the fact that I have been taking daily baby aspirins for years that in the end saved my life.
But my goodness, what a delightful experience that operation actually was! It began at seven on Thursday morning, and I was barely sedated at all. My body was draped, and there was a giant screen, maybe six by ten feet, suspended right above me to my left, and a machine maybe a foot and a half square just above my chest that moved all around in the air, making busy noises, while young male attendants flitted about and would lean in and whisper to me to be still if I moved at all. My cardiologist that I had met just the day before, and my cardiac surgeon that I had met only minutes before, were standing by my right hip, happily chatting and playing some cheerful video game with big squiggles on that gigantic screen. I never felt pain or pressure at the tiny wound site in my hip, or in my chest, or anywhere. And this is heart surgery? Are you kidding me? Some fellow paused and whispered to me that things were going very well as the machine in the air above my chest moved and buzzed, and moved and buzzed. The doctors chatted and the squiggles squiggled. The whole thing took about an hour from the time when they first rolled me into that room. And then the machine stopped and lifted. The cardiac surgeon came to my head and told me that it had gone very well (which must be their standard mantra). He took out his cellphone and showed me two pictures. One was of my coronary artery with what looked like a quarter-inch-long snip taken right out of the middle of it. And the second was of what was clearly the same artery, but you couldn’t even tell where the blockage had been. Wow, amazing! And that surgeon was grinning a great big grin! Are cardiac surgeons supposed to grin when they are on duty?
On Friday morning I felt terrific and as if I could run a Marathon, but we had no blog post yet to speak of, and not enough time left in the week to write one. Marvina’s solution was to make this post primarily about Atlantica, which I now realize has been her longstanding obsession. She channeled all the bullet-points above, while she encouraged me to – sure, go ahead – write about my operation, an experience with which I am now in love, and be sure to include my cardiac surgeon’s promise that I am good to go now for the next twenty years. My Thomas has let me know that when we accepted this body before my birth, we knew that it had that one health risk which now has safely been addressed. For my part, I cannot get over the fact that they do those video-game miracles all day, every day in that operating room that is just twenty minutes away from my house.
But having worked with Marvina on her bullet-points has made me even more curious about Atlantica! And I know now that there actually could be such a place, somewhere in the astral plane. We know, for example, that there is a permanent Dickens village in the astral, and I would not be at all surprised to find that there is a Harry Potter village there as well. So, have we also conjured our own fictional Atlantican Shangri-la into being? Just how difficult is that to do? Marvina tells me that we have tapped into and adapted, rather than having conjured Atlantica into being there. And I kind of understand that now. One of the facts about the astral plane that is difficult for people in bodies to understand is that things there can be simultaneously true and not-true without contradiction. So, yes, it exists there. I do get that now.
As you read our bullet-points, you may be thinking that you would be reluctant to give up some of the trinkets of your modern American way of life. Cars and airplanes. TV and video games. But doesn’t it seem that what is most important is to look at what each culture produces? The fruit of the Atlantican culture is universally gentle, loving, and happy people, and it is easy to see why that is true. Atlanticans make producing universally gentle, loving, and happy people the focus of their whole way of life! But the fruit of Western culture is too often tragic insanity. And we can see why that is true as well. A good and gentle father was bludgeoned to death last week by what were just your average middle-class American men as part of a schoolboys’ brawl over thirty dollars. And this is what America has now become? What are you and I leaving to our grandchildren?
Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can.
No need for greed or hunger. A brotherhood of man.
Imagine all the people Sharing all the world.
You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one.
I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will live as one.
– John Winston Lennon (1940-1980, from “Imagine” (1971)