“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.
But that is not for them to decide.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born,
and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”
― Mark Twain
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the
intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke,
thoroughly used up, totally worn out,
and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
― Hunter S. Thompson
(image of Christ crucified, Rapperswill Polish Museum, Rapperswill, Switzerland / Julie Cook / 2012)
There is no getting around it.
No bailing out.
No free pass.
It is the proverbial truism…
and of course those blasted taxes.
It comes to all of us, at some point in our lives…
Be it tragically, prematurely or thankfully…
One thing is certain, it will come.
Driving home from the store this afternoon I drove past a cemetery with a freshly dug grave
close to my line of sight.
Having recently buried my father-n-law, then having rushed a feeble dad this week in for IVs as he’s gotten himself in a dangerous predicament, death has been a frequent thought.
Death is certainly disrupting.
It disrupts obviously the one who it just whisked away…
and it disrupts those who are now without the one Death so rudely, or thankfully, took away.
Picking up the pieces is, more times than not, an emotional nightmare.
I’ve done my share of picking up and I’ve not much cared for it.
But haven’t we all….
There is such a finality to it all.
No reruns, no redos, no getting back.
It’s a done and done sort of deal.
It’s the ultimate in being robbed or stolen from…
And I don’t like that.
Yet if given the option of living forever, I would politely decline.
For life is hard.
Oh don’t get me wrong, Life is grand as well,
but overall, it can be hard.
Yet I feel an odd sense when pondering death…
something I really don’t like pondering…
as in, I’d rather not think about it.
I don’t like thinking about being separated from those I love…
Me from them and them from me.
Of things moving merrily along without me.
I would be so sad.
Yet is that not our ego…thinking we just need to be here, in the thick of it all…
Or fretting over what we might just miss…
And then there is the wondering of exactly where might I be headed.
Up, down, all around….
I like to think I’m headed in the right direction…
Being a follower of the Resurrected Christ.
Having confessed, and confessed some more, those egregious actions and sins of mine…
and then trusting in God’s promise and Holy word…
Yet what human, no matter how much they profess, claim, proclaim and believe…
isn’t plagued by questions?
If you’re not, nor haven’t been, your’e a far better person than I…
Yet I do know that the Prince of Darkness loves to whisper in the ear of the faithful
all sorts of gobbledygook, lies, half truths and falsehoods…
Inserting and sowing doubts, worry and fretting wherever the ground seems fertile.
Then I worry about being alone…
as in left alone
Not in the book series but rather here by myself all alone…
I don’t like that.
Yes there is indeed lots to ponder when Death happens upon our door…
Do you remember when you first learned to swim?
I almost drowned at the age of 5 during that process
but that is not my point here….the point is remembering the process.
Chances are you stood on the edge of the pool or on the boat dock
or at the edge of the lake or up on the sand at the beach…
A parent, or older trusted individual, was below (or standing in the surf)
treading almost effortlessly in the water, arms out stretched, waiting for you
while they coaxed, encouraged, implored or even pleaded with you to jump…
waiting patiently for you to come to them….to their strong open arms…
It was an overwhelming feeling.
Big and deep, murky or clear, cold or warm, the vast body of water waited along with a loved one.
There was a bit of excitement, of wonderment, a sense of mounting adventure.
Yet there were also the nerves, the worry, the anxiety, the predisposed need for survival percolating upward from some deep recess of your hypothalamus (that part of the brain responsible for fight or flight).
The internal struggle of should I or shouldn’t I was raging in the span of just a few minutes.
Some of us may have needed to run through this routine a couple of times before working up our nerve or building our trust.
We may have had to run to mom, or someone perched on dry land who could reassure us that it was going to be ok.
We’d work that nerve up again, and again…facing that great challenge,
all the while knowing that we weren’t really going this alone because there was that person who wanted to love us and protect us, who was waiting for us in that water…
Learning to swim is not just something done for fun…
it is a true life survival skill.
A skill our parents and loved ones want to instill in us.
There is the benefit of swimming for fun and pleasure, but don’t let that fool you, it is a survival skill plain and simple.
I kind of like to think Death will be a lot like learning to swim.
There are the nerves and the trepidation.
The fear of the unknown.
But then we see Jesus, with His arms outstretched.
I see the wounds in His hands as He stretches out His arms towards me…
There is peace in His eyes…
He voice is calm as He beckons…
“It’s going to be ok,” he reassures…
“I’ve already done this, so don’t you worry…..”
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”