Amidst Norways dark and rain, I glimpse hope through faint sunshine stain. I look and smile, and look again. I live no more in vain, for there is hope, and hope secure. Evidence shone; my hope’s compelling spur. The sun will rise, yes rise for sure.
Did you really think faith is intrinsically blind? I take it, then, that you have never seen and felt the evidence based hope borne by a sunshine ray amidst Mid-winter Norway’s cold darkness.
The poem in the picture is in Norwegian, and many of you will not be able to read it. As a poor comfort, however, most Norwegian readers won’t be able to understand its actual meaning either. 😉
Observations, in light of the standard cosmological model, seem to strongly suggest that the Universe as we know it today started in a point-like event some good 13 billion years ago. Since then it has grown and grown, and now we observe living in a flat (at least quite flat…) Universe. Thus it seems as if the Universe currently has infinite spatial extension! But is a point-like big bang event within finite past really reconcilable with the present state of infinite spatial extension? W. Rindler discusses this in a paper with the catching title “Finite foliations of open FRW universes and the point-like big bang”  published in year 2000. The solution is not simple (so we won’t work out any details!), but yet the mathematics is clear.
The clue lies in the space of simultaneity and choice of reference frames. By using the “Milne model” Rindler shows that the simultaneity space of an observer in one set of coordinates has infinite spatial extension, whereas the spatial section of simultaneity in another set of coordinates (co-moving coordinates) has finite spatial sections of simultaneity. Thus it is actually possible, concludes Rindler, that we now live in a universe whose space of simultaneity is infinite — yet it all came from the same point in finite past.
Note that this “point” where the universe originated is in itself not a trivial concept, since spacetime itself had –for all what we know — no extension beyond this point. Think of the surface of a balloon that starts off very small. The surface of the balloon is analogous to our world (our world is 3-dimensional though…). After the big bang (“big blow” in this case!), the balloon is much bigger. Note that the big blow event did not happen anywhere on the current surface of the ballon. It cannot have, since the ballon has expanded away from the “point” where the big blow took place. But if the big bang was truly a point-event — then one could also say that it happened everywhere (all the points on the current surface of the balloon came from the same super-small balloon in the past). So! One needs to be precise about what one means when discussing the singularities of space-time theories.
The bottom line is that yes: a big-bang event in finite past is in principle reconcilable with an open universe model!
In todays world the focus on environmentally friendly energy sources is ever increasing. Perhaps Penrose’s idea from the seventies must be used… I originally wrote the below post for the Facebook page “UiS Cosmology” (https://www.facebook.com/uiscosmology/?fref=nf):
In 1971 Penrose and Floyd published a paper suggesting a mechanism to extract energy from a black hole. In their paper  they motivate their study from an analogous mechanism in the theory of pulsars (discovered in 1967), which are rotating neutron stars emitting energy in the form of radiation. These rotating stars have an enormous magnetic field (about a billion times as strong as that of the earth!) attached to it. Not only would compasses work outside the star, but one could extract energy from these fields. Penrose and Floyd now wanted to see if it was possible to extract energy from a rotating black hole! A black hole is extremely massive, so one could potentially expect this to be a huge battery of energy. Their hope wasn’t to extract energy from magnetic fields, however, but rotational energy.
You might wonder how this could possibly work, since no information can escape out over the horizon of a black hole. The reason for the speculation is, however, grounded in the so-called Kerr solution to Einstein’s equations, which describes a rotating black hole. For a rotating black hole there is the so-called “stationary limit”, which lies outside the horizon, and a particle travelling with the local speed of light will appear stationary from the outside. More importantly in this case: it is theoretically possible for a particle to have negative energy in this region. Penrose therefore suggested that one could drop a particle from the outside and into this region. In this region the particle should split in two in such a way that one of the particles get negative energy, whereas the other (due to energy conservation) gets more energy. This latter particle would therefore escape back out with more energy than it had when it came in. Voila! Rotational energy extracted from a black hole.
The process nowadays bears the name “The Penrose process”, but has certainly not been physically realised as of yet.
Bear with a Christian’s sarcastic perception of the non-believer’s “Christmas”:
It’s that calm notion again. Can you sense it? That time of the year when culture itself cuddles with you and wraps you up in a treacherously blanket of imagined innocence and of white peace within. The month for mindfulness and picturesque afterthought. Photo albums, as some call them. That one and only time of the year when red isn’t a dangerous colour, but rather a sign of a baby born king and the exchange of humankind’s guilt for innocence — so they believe that one day of the year. The snow is descending from heaven like small angles singing praises to the king that was born two millennia ago. Peacefully all mankind sits back singing hymns along with the heavenly descenders. Children’s plays are created and acted out to the honour and glory of the old, sacred infant. Even the adults, having abandoned the unpleasant myths long ago, now lean back and hum along as the children sing, finding the good ol’ stories more attractive and believable than they have done throughout the whole preceding year. Oh the bliss — that sweet, sweet taste of wonderland perhaps not being fairytale after all. Even to such an extant does mankind relax that people find courage enough to visit their deceased ones, creating local traffic jams on every graveyard in town. The ding dong jingle bells resound over all the earth — an imaginary king is born — and nicely dressed men and women leave their houses to supernatural care for a few hours while they as gathered families flock to the churches to hear it all about their protecters — virgin st. Mary, baby king Jesus and the later St. Claus — all preached so gently and graciously. That good ol’ story of hope yonder. A tear rolls down on mothers cheek and even dad is moved to the brim of what his pride can take as their children act on stage. The whole world is in motion as Bach’s Christmas Oratorium is blasted in the cathedrals of the big cities and the local churches fills with chanting sweet carols. Oh, how life-giving and hopeful. How lovely and pleasant a time of hope! After church, sweet Christmas lasts a little longer. Just a little longer it is. Then, when the blessed imagination that nobody believes in is all over, mankind goes home again, strengthened, each one of them into the dark new year, forgetting about it all til next time.
Christmas is here again. Oh how sweet the emptiness — how wicked the blessed bliss of deception.
Another year has passed with obscure swiftness. It is hard not to get a bit philosophical at the end of things.We were discussing the contents of Christmas in the family this otherday, realising all over again how immensely empty it all should be for most people. I mean; I don’t object to people enjoying themselves and taking the heaviest of winter weeks off to relax. By no means! I am just a tiny little bit confused and perplexed to find my atheist friends lining up for church. May I suggest you keep your children out of the spider web of Christmas carol lies if you don’t believe the content therein? That you don’t sing praises to a two millennia old baby king found worthy of no further honour and glory than that of being shared with a fantasy figure like Santa Claus? And do I utter this hard critic because I don’t believe in Jesus as the Christ that he is? On the contrary. Rather precisely because I am one of those who do. But I do not believe in Santa Claus (and never would I let my children into believing on such silliness). Neither do I believe in the integrity of an atheist singing “Silent night”.
I am sitting in the back of a lecturing room in Centro de Sciencias in Benasque one Thursday in September, starting the blog post from my first scientific conference ever. At the blackboard is a Japanese student speaking about some topic quite inconceivable — partly because of his rather interesting variant of English, and partly due to the technicality with which it is presented. I am tiered. Not that it hasn’t been an interesting conference. To the contrary I have had both an enjoyable stay and intellectual stimulus to the brim. Not only will I return with an enhanced understanding of theoretical cosmology, an extended network of fellow researchers within similar fields to my own and an deepened awareness of the many fields there are under the umbrella of cosmology. Additionally, some of the talks have to some extent shaken me in my faith in science. It is not that I have turned into a disbeliever or anything. I just woke up from my science induced slumber a couple of times, reminded of how easy it is to fall asleep during lectures — even lectures of life. One thing I realized is how insanely many theories there are on the market. Inasmuch as they are non-compatible with each other, they cannot all be right at the same time. I would guess that most theories developed are just quite simply…. wrong. That’s how science goes! You don’t know its wrong before you tried it out. As long as the available evidence is scarce enough, one is free to speculate and invent knew explanations. In theoretical physics we know this. Sometimes one better remember that there is a real world out there, with which your theories have to agree — or they are quite simply wrong! The fascinating conclusion, however, must still be that physics hits the ground standing on both feet. For even if the individual contribution might seem diminishing in most cases, the combined effort amounts to rather remarkable achievements in terms of falsifiable calculations. Quite frankly we seem to understand more and more physics as the lectures of time goes on. Better just don’t fall asleep, or somebody might whisper you a lie in the ear.
During the talks, the less modernized professors would occasionally express their concerns on the new developments in physics. One day midweek in the midday coffee break one of the defenders of the classical theories blamed the modern cosmologists for picking and choosing according to their own wish, which lead to nothing but sheer speculation and non-sense, he said promptly.
“Well — and that comes from you?” said his colleague, somewhat annoyed, before he added
“But you might as well be right…”
with an ironic, but disarming smile of phlegmatic diplomacy. I just stood there among the wise grey hairs grinning and hoped for the argument to stretch and last for as long as possible. The lovely atmosphere of rivaling friends would soon be interrupted by an expressive Spanish voice chasing us up for the next session.
One of the nights I ended up dining with an Oxford professor whose opinions on the accelerated expansion of the universe is rather controversial. Over a five cheese pizza the trust and mistrust, use and abuse of modern science was discussed back and forth. I was rather disturbed (but intrigued) to hear him confirm what rumors had it he pronounced in a lecture at the summer school that was running parallel to our conference at the center. In his preprint uploaded to arXiv, he and two others explain how they “…find, rather surprisingly, that the data are still quite consistent with a constant rate of expansion.“, The data considered in the paper is type 1a supernovae data. I have to say it was a rather interesting dinner. I mean; this is not a nobody; its an Oxford professor!
If there is no accelerated expansion of the universe, the whole community of theoretical physicists are building their theories around evidence that isn’t there. They are all living in a constructed lie that nobody sees.
The good thing with science, however, is that the truth seems to pervade in the end, even if it is slowed down by inertia induced by pride, stubbornness or other subjective factors. It pervades due to its explanatory power and simplifying beauty. Anyhow, as I read his paper (actually he is not the first author), I find that his claim is not as strong as I initially thought. Anyhow I am anticipating the discussion to follow if the paper comes out in a high class science journal (and if you were wondering: the big bang theory is not touched by his findings. Rather it would concern the entity typically called dark energy.). The Oxford professor and those who oppose his claims cannot simultaneously be right. One of the parties is wrong. This means one has to be mindful and discerning, even in a discipline like physics, which seemingly is built on pure logic.
The lesson I draw from all this is NOT that theoretical physics is a dead end! But I am reminded that even if the methods we use in physics are rock solid in terms of logic, it doesn’t help if the observational evidence isn’t there to discriminate between the different solutions available from the mathematical side. This is important to remember, and a disclaimer of my own future mistakes 😉 ( which hopefully there will be none of…). Those who believe in science (like myself) must not forget to clearly reveal the assumptions underlying our theories, and those who distrust science must likewise do so on a rational basis, and not cutting it off as wild speculations altogether, without giving a reason for doing so. Remember that — assuming we one day, whether it be gradually or abruptly, will know the truth — your privileged opinion or personal wishes doesn’t matter for a second in this respect.
I could have gone on to tell you about our hiking to Collo de Toro — a beautiful trip into the surrounding mountains (which reach as high as 3404m on the highest!). Or I could have spelled out the passion of prof. Elizaldes talk on the origin of the universe, as the Spanish professor gesticulated with his arms and as his voice passionately assumed tones along the whole spectra, all supporting the message he conveyed as he moved back and forth on the floor: much like an actor on stage. His talk pretty much amounted in being a disclaimer of Wikipedia as a good source to information.
Forgetting about the science part of my stay — but not leaving rationalism for a second — I could have rather told you about three lovely conversations I had on the topic of God. At three different occasions, each involving a different person, I had three distinctly characteristic talks on the most profound type of question a human mind can ask: Is there a God? Three bright, young researchers willingly grappled with me on the topic. One of them aggressively. Another reluctant but dismissive and the third one with an open mind.
Yes, I could have told you about this…
…but it would only amount in teaching me another expensive lesson on the constraints provided on the measures of time allotted to each one of us. Instead, therefore, I will stop here.
I hope we shall encounter each other again on a different occasion, though it seems my blogging is not going to increase in frequency. In terms of personal value, I have more profitable things to write (and certainly to do! 🙂 ).
Well, it is already soon September, and I am ready to embark upon my Ph.D. work here in the city of dark matter. Indeed it is — I have heard they have a big industry where they mine dark matter from underneath the sea bed here. They call it “oil”. The platforms they use are huge (pic. to the left)! So I am not at all sure why physicists are still asking whether dark matter exists or not… 😉
I have already been working for two weeks by now. There is so much I don’t know, and I have had to read up. Especially on some mathematical tools. Right now I am learning something called the Cartan formalism (Not to be confused with Dashman and the cartoon-formalism!) where something called the orthonormal approach is essential. Though it might not sound like a page turner, it is really quite fun when you finally understand it and see that you can calculate stuff with it. I am finally learning the tools I have wanted to know for quite some time, but never found the time and motivation to read. Today I reproduced the Einstein equations describing space outside a spherically symmetric black hole, and also the equations for a homogeneous, isotropic universe, which has the Big Bang as starting point. Those are text-book examples, but perfect for practice. As soon as I master them I may start applying the tools on new ideas.
I am hoping to be able to blog a bit more seriously about what I am really doing now. Time will show, however, if that really is going to happen, or if it is just another good and empty hope. Surely the life as a Ph. D. student is not a laid back one, so there might be more important stuff that I need to consider doing before blogging. Like drawing cartoons (cf. illustration) or going on conferences. Yes, I am going on a conference already next week!
“Cosmology and the Quantum vacuum” is the topic, and it happens to take place in Benasque in Spain. Ah… the struggles of a Ph. D. student… have to get up at 4 am in the morning to catch the plane to Spain… 😉 My supervisor just let me know that he is going to present our work on viscous cosmology, so I better read up a bit again on what we did. You never know what they will ask. Exciting, though!
Anyways… from the physics side of things it seems that I will work on something related to modified theories of gravity during my studies here in Stavanger. If you have any questions about it, please contact me in a year’s time, and I will let you know what them say… .
After a few years where I have been wondering, pondering and struggling both with questions of faith related character, and with questions concerning what direction my life is to take, I am glad to finally have gotten this opportunity. Actually I am going to work with exactly what I wanted. And I am reunited with my brothers and sister in law, who are also in town. Actually it turns out that the position that I am filling was some sort of a misunderstanding (but I won’t complain about that 🙂 )! The Lord has been good.
I am praying that the time here in Stavanger will do my soul well — seen from the reference frame of eternity.
Wait — didn’t I just turn 7? At least my 17th anniversary isn’t that long ago, is it? Well, actually I just turned 27 a few days ago!
I went running this other day, and happened to pass by the school I went to when I first started primary school. It is out in the countryside, so I am not there very often. I looked for my own mirror image in the large windows to do a check up on my running technique. As I passed by I saw a 27 year old man who looked like he was running in the hallway on the inside of the building. My imagination got feet on its own, and I soon realized that 20 years ago I would do precisely that. Run to classes inside those buildings. I mean; wasn’t that yesterday? No — it’s actually 20 years ago! An attentive, and from time to time rather anxious child once stood behind that window. A big backpack on his back and a hand safely put in mum’s. I so vividly saw him there on the inside, as he was walking in to attend his first class ever. All the questions swirling in his head. Was it safe in there? What was he to expect? Why did the room have to smell so strongly of..unknown? Why did that teacher chew gum all the time? Would he make it through the tests? Would he make it to learn all he was supposed to? Would they be allowed to play? Excited, reluctant and anticipating he went into the room. He had no idea what he would be like when he came out 20 years of shaping later. Standing there on the outside watching myself go into the room, I realized that the building hadn’t changed at all. Such a perspective. Though the building was the same, the world I saw around me when standing in it, looked so different back then, compared to now. Had I only known what the world is like from here … . Well — actually I am glad I didn’t. A quite transfigured person stood on the outside now. Not only taller. Stronger. Wiser. Older. More guilty. Closer to death. More aware and more experienced. Yet; just as weak, as untaught , as inexperienced and as fragile, lacking and insufficient as the child on the inside: times a hundred. That hundredfold is the cost of awareness and maturity in a fallen world. Indeed; the man on the outside was in the same need of a hand reaching deep down from heaven to guide an otherwise lost child through life — into whatever class is next on the list.
As a child I would reason with myself and understand that at some point I would grow up and become an adult. I didn’t appreciate the thought much — unfortunate as it was to know that I once would have to sit down at the table, tending boring conversations instead of playing with LEGO. But it had to be so. After all that’s how the world works. I dreadfully hoped that at least somebody would teach me how to fill in those white and yellow bills before that time, because they looked so scary and complex with all those numbers on them! But even as I realized that adulthood was my ultimate destiny, and not an offer to be turned down, I also felt like it was a whole eternity until I was actually going to get there. After all, according to my experience, one year in itself took half an eternity, so ten years was quite incomprehensible!
Yet here I am; an adult, more or less. Perhaps a bit wiser. Perhaps a bit less childish and with some maturing aspects about myself. But I still find the same childish tendency in myself. I know for certain that my final destiny from nature’s side — if God grant it so — are the gray hairs and a withering body. I might just have rounded the top of the hill now in my twenties, and downhill is more and more a fact. Though it looks like a distant future, I am soon going to turn 72 instead of 27. We all know age coming, but we don’t really grasp it, do we? Not until the day is there, and we look back and amaze at the swiftness of passing time.
As I screw up my eyes and scout down into the future, I wonder how the past looks from out there. Will I look back in regret and contempt? Will I look back at past youth, grumbling over my aging body and vanishing neural activity? I hope not. I hope that I will rather look at the present as past from a wiser and brighter future, knowing that I shall once look at it from eternity. My brain might not any more be as capable as it was when I was a child. I may not be as innocent as I was when I was an infant. It doesn’t matter. For I am one step closer to eternity with and in God. Shall I take another step or two upwards as I go down? For downhill is certainly coming.
We all chose whether we will have to look up to, or down at the past. If an old body, a vanishing memory and an altogether dying biological machinery is granted me to inhabit, then down it shall be. For I am yet to climb higher.
I just came back from an altogether wonderful trip with my wonderful brother, visiting our wonderful cousin in wonderful Prague in all its wonderful splendor and medieval glory. It was great. Truly great, and as you’ll sooner or later realize, this blog-post has got nothing with tourism to do. On holiday, though, I often have an aching “but…”-feeling. After a couple of days in the midst of amazing architecture in Prague’s Old-town, we somehow managed to get bored, so we decided to take a day-trip to Dresden. Prague stretches 1100 years back along the arrow of time and has according to Wikipedia been a historical, political and cultural center in Europe throughout much of it. How we managed to get bored is an Easter mystery greater than any, but off we went. And there, in a relaxing cafeteria in the heart of Dresden, that same “but…” feeling struck me like the hunger strikes the tourist. No room for excuses of any kind this time. You don’t get bored of a city after having spent 2 hours in it! So what. Well — the question bothering me was “Why?” We fly in to Prague with big empty cameras on big empty stomachs and big (seemingly just as empty) heads on top of all the glory. We walk down streets surrounded by Rome’s ancient glory, Prague’s medieval splendor or London’s amazing, fallen political power. We shoot the same cheese-smiling photos that tourists have taken since the camera became mobile enough for instant photogramming and the later Instagram. We vomit money like food-poisoned tourists. We stop at the right local or even just “local” food shops (not at all questioning if dumplings really are Check or if pizza actually is British) and stuff ourselves with all kinds of food that the natives never eat — except when they go abroad for holidays. Yawning tourists flow through the streets of Budapest listening to a guide from England who once read a book about the city and since then has worked part time to support her studies. Surprisingly enough all the world’s seven wonders somehow seem to be connected to the past of the city you chose to visit. In Moscow they play the same game. In Paris. And Hong Kong. Me and my brother take the bus to Dresden and repeat the same procedure. We walk down the main street from the train station, exactly where the tourists are meant to walk to be told the happy lies they want to hear. Around us Asians with way too much money, Americans with way to big stomachs and Norwegians with way to small brains are all marching around playing the same stupid game. We all follow the rules like fools fooling around in foolery, thinking we are happy. I sit on a cafe called Max and think these thoughts through. I might be exaggerating no less than the tourist guides I have met on my trips, but you get the point.
Perhaps I overstate because I got scared. When I first noticed my lack of ability to appreciate the game, I was scared and despaired ever so slightly. This whole game really gives me nothing. Rather it empties me much like a tourist empties his wallet. It is not that I take no interest in history lessons, culture or tasty food. Actually I really do. But that aching question of “Remind me; what is the point of this whole game, again?” becomes so overwhelming that I just want to cry. Think of all the money people spend playing this game. Seated in the second floor I look down at all the map-reading tourists, Döner-eating tourists, guided tourists, photo-shooting tourists and culture-consuming tourists of all seven kinds.They are all players in the same game: The tourist game. It is a game strict with rules and with no meaning whatsoever. Everybody plays it. If you follow the rules you become a successful tourist, says the manual. Come home from Egypt without souvenirs and you loose 10 points on the spot. Fly back from Greece without a tan and receive a move-back-to-start penalty. You’ll have to take the holiday over again do make up for it (or buy a year membership in a solarium). Tourists are slaves of their freedom. I hope I am not the only tourist who keeps feeling this way. The name of the cafe reminds me of a friend of mine that I am well above hundred percent confident would be even more bored than me by this stupid game. The Max I know would rather make native friends, blend into the daily life or help an old lady in the midst of Paris’ tourist attractions, while the rest of us watch the astronomic watch in Prague waiting for the twelve apostles to appear above it and reveal some deep, hidden truth to us that we may marvel at and later disbelieve. Tell me — why do we play the tourist game, again? What does it give us? For just by the shear number of tourists on the market one is led to conclude that it must give something to most people. I am glad to know that there at least exist a few people who see the meaningless of this game.
But in the end you probably know me right. I am not actually at all worried about how people spend their holidays or in front of which buildings they stretch out their selfie sticks. What made me so depressed in that cafeteria had nothing with tourism to do, really. It concerned deeper issues. Issues of true freedom slaves. What depressed me, was to think of all the dear and good friends I have, and all the talented people I have met and continue to meet, that are all so content with being tourists of life. They take the right education. They make tons of friends, go to parties, download the right apps, see the right TV-series, do sports, go on holidays and smile on all the pictures they shoot to prove their progressive success. Their well-meaning parents have taught them not to waste their time, and as a result they fill their every moment to the brim with all sorts of excitements, amusement and entertainment that today’s world offer them. Some of them do more during a week than I do in a whole year. And they seem happy. They probably are happy. But not because they stopped at Max to check. Rather because they didn’t. Most of them will never do, either. After all — who wants to get depressed? Stay in the game: Apply for the right universities, work for the right funding and aim at the best jobs. Invest properly in the future. Snap, freeze, tweet and “cheese” all good moments from the past and delete all the bad. Find an intimate friend to get your daily dose of selfish love, or just outsource it to Tinder. Anyways; you are a looser if you don’t have a temporary life-long partner. Fill your life with tons of friends to occupy you in your spare-time and to make sure you don’t have any leftover moment to sit down and reflect on the meaning of the whole game. No-no; that’s already taken care of. Stay you in the game. Stay humble too and profess your lack of belief as an agnostic. Just don’t sit down to figure it all out. You loose time. Play. In short:
Experience. Chill. Relax. Have fun. And follow all the rules. Congrats — you have just earned your share of success!
But remind me, tourist; what of worth does this game give you? You walk the right streets, you buy the right hot dogs and shoot the right Big Ben pictures, smiling the right “cheese”. But the only reason you are happy is because you smile.
I could never be happy that way. Enjoy your Bratwürst.
A friend of mine just passed away in a tragic road accident. My thoughts go to his closest ones. I am in grief with them, and I mourn. Yet — I rejoice with the believing ones among them, that he now has met the God in whom he profeessed belief; a God who judges with righteousness. Let us not forget whence we came into this world.
Lights everywhere, red-eyed people in deep grief. What all of us see to be the contours of a priest enters the room. “He is with us no more,” he begins, as he smiles from ear to ear. Silent snivel around the tables. Cries of helplessness break the peace. He is gone. At such direct notice people are not able to contain themselves, and his nearest hold each other close as dreary sobbing is heard across the little room of people in grey suits. Tears flow freely, and people in grey become people in grey spotted black and later people in black. He is gone. I sit a bit further behind in the room and contemplate the words. I see people cry. I see people who weep, and I see faces inconsolable. Myself, however, I find that my brain must be instructed to shut down its most human parts when tragedy hits. The most sensitive parts are shielded from exposure to the worst storms. In retrospective I shall gradually have to feel these parts unravel and turn on again and start prosessing what has happened. First when the hurricane has left, is it safe to view the damages inflicted. But as for now — “He is gone.” –The words just drop dead to the ground. Unprocessed. Yet others, I observe, don’t know how to feel. There is nothing wrong or right about how you feel, says a girl standing up to pass a last greeting to the passed away one. You just feel like you feel. She sits down, and others follow her in sharing memories. The walls of the little room we are assembled in for his remembrance reveal that we are all imprisoned. Patches of paint has fallen off here and there and scattered on the cold concrete floor. I raise up to tell my friend farewell, too. Memories of how we used to talk together cross my mind and move my lips. Memories of how we could discuss and disagree about pretty much everything between heaven and earth and back and beyond. I remember how we held each other accountable for the hope of freedom that lived in us. I sit down with the others and try to keep the hope of freedom beating. I look around me. In the corner I see the priestlike one again. The one who came with the message that he thought to be a message of joy. A whisper that “God judge him for his lack of reverence and sorrow” fills the room. Not much of a priest, people murmur and look at a happy man in grey clothes hiding in a corner. He mumbles something like “I so long to the day when I will be in freedom with him.” People accuse him of having a distorted view of the 10 feet rock solid reality surrounding us; the prison walls.
“Whence did you come in, then?” he replies.
The guards come into the room and dissolve the meeting. “Everybody back to their rooms — now!” Silent, sad and with a broken hope we return to our cells and sit our respective beds. A distant whistle of joy from the cell of the priestlike. The one whos perception of reality, they say, is insane and wishful thinking. He still waits for his freedom. For the day when his transgressions have been atoned for.
And they are right — only the one who knows freedom can be imprisoned.
The more you know you are imprisoned, the less sorry you feel for the release of a fellow prisoner. Of course we shall mourn and be in grief for those who pass from this faint world and into reality. But let us never forget just that: Reality is beyond — not here — awaiting those who know that they are imprisoned.