Throughout my novel, A Comfortable Distance, a theme emerges regarding the transcendence of life’s sacred and exalted moments. Toward the end of Derrick’s near-death experience, he is left with one of the final moments from his life that he can still remember. The memory is of he and Bonnie, the woman he loved, when they had spent a weekend in a cabin high in the Smokey Mountains. Bonnie beckons Derrick to join her outside to view the scene from their terrace as a glorious snowfall begins to whiten the wooded mountainside. Putting his arm around Bonnie he whispers that he wishes this moment could last forever, to which Bonnie says it really could last, like an eternal flame, if they chose to keep it alive. Derrick is quietly intrigued by the idea that a single moment in time could influence every turn and circumstance of their future, always reminding them of the sacredness of life and the capacity for joy and love that these simple but extraordinary experiences can inspire. It’s an idea he would eventually reject and regard with cynicism when he began to fall back into his self-destructive pattern, which would bring his and Bonnie’s relationship to an end.
The theme is symbolized by the blue-and-white irises, which represents the sacred moments of prayer that had provided Derrick’s protection while journeying through Purgatory to Sky Island, the “beginning of Heaven.” When Derrick reaches the shores of Sky Island, he notices one of the irises growing up at his feet and he thoughtlessly picks one, finding it tangible now (before then, the irises had appeared as ghostly objects, untouchable). The iris, in his hand, continues its rapid blooming, growing in fullness and light, until it finally leaves his hand as a brilliant thing, transforming into twinkles of light that float away to join the sparkling breezes that blow through the air and the trees in Heaven. It symbolizes those exalted, transcendent moments that live on forever.
When Derrick returns to his life, he remembers the eternal quality that exists in Time and in the heightened moments of our lives if we seize them and allow them to lift us up, to connect us to Heavenly and eternal things. He realizes that Heaven itself is but a single, exalted moment that never ends, and that our earthly lives can be the beginning of Heaven, like the little island just outside the great Empyrean where glorified souls enter God’s Realm.
My novel, a Kindle Book, can be found on Amazon.com.