Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thoughts on Death

Yes, it's a bright, warm, late spring day, and I'm here thinking about death. Sick? No. Morbid? Ok, maybe a little. But it's an intellectual thing that really grips me. If you think about it, death is really the question of human existence. I'm talking in plain, simple, human terms - all people have understood that they, too, will one day die. It is the only certainty in life (besides taxes, but that's a different rant). Death is the existential question - why am I here? and where am I going? Is death the final scene in the play of life?

Some, including myself, may argue that death allows us to live more fully. If this was forever, would you really feel the need to seize the day? Rather, death offers us perspective, even if it is a rather morbid perspective. Death allows us to cherish this life and what it has to offer. Rather than the ultimate enemy, death is simply a natural stage of development. That is our connection to nature - that like the birds, the ants, and the plants, we too will expire. There is something oddly beautiful in this cycle - the cycle of life presents us with a paradox. Our time is limited, so what are we going to do with it?

Anthropologically, one can argue that "religion," or even a belief in "God," is a natural, existential reaction to the horror of death. But, I don't think it is. Rather, a yearning for "God" is similar to death in that it allows us to live more deeply and more fully. Now, maybe I'm biased because I do think there's a God out there, but I also think that it is this God, a personal agent, who takes care of us in death. We think that because of freedom, we are independent creatures. We take for granted that this heart keeps thumping and these lungs keep inhaling. We aren't quite that independent - we still need the Creator as Sustainer. In the same way, it is a loving God who takes us in the arms of love as we pass from this life to the next. And for that, we can gain a little comfort - that the sting of death isn't the end, rather it is the beginning of something greater.


At 7:48 PM, Blogger Looney said...

You made me ponder back to how I felt about death when I was younger, and compare this to how I feel now. What I felt was probably not too different from what you described. Then for a few years, I got tied up in the Silicon Valley rat race. Too busy counting stock options to think about death - or anything else important.

Praise God that he bursts bubbles! A decade later and things are different. Now work is for a living and living is for teaching the gospel to the young people in the church. Now it feels more like the race that Paul talked about. How many classes will God want me to do between now and when I die? Will he be satisfied that I have done my best? How much theological malpractice will I be held accountable for? How can I do better?

May He give you the answers!

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