To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure-J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
If you haven’t quit reading, you are actually braver thatn most. Death is a subject we despise. We avoid thinking about it, we ignore and deny it, or we romanticize it into a fictional thing so we don’t have to work through the existential valley that it represents. George Bernard Shaw said
Life’s ultimate statistic is the same for all people. One out of one dies.
We live with an expiration date just like the replicants in Blade Runner. (Well, the humans, too); Just like a carton of milk. One day, our whole body just quits. And truthfully? That’s a scary proposition for everyone, including those of us who believe in life after crossing the veil.
See, the truth is, no one knows what happens past the flatline; except for people trying to sell books, I think, they seem to know. The Judeo-Christian belief (and many others) teaches that there is a life after this one but Christianity is pretty unclear as to what that experience will be. Heaven and Hell are both so surrounded by myth and traditional interpretation and cultural influence from great works of art, we can barely even decipher what the Bible might be trying to tell us about it.
This is pretty clear though, Paul says in I Thessalonians 4:13 speaking of death, that we don’t mourn like those who have no hope. Now, hope is a beautiful word. Paul lists it in his first letter to Corinth as one of three eternal qualities that will survive everything. Faith and Love are the others. That means that Hope is in pretty powerful company. These three things make up the entirety of what Jesus taught. Love is the greatest of the three, according to Paul and a quick read of the New Testament, shoot, even the Old Testament, will bring out that truth. Love for God, love for each other. Faith is best explained as the courage to keep walking when you can’t actually see the road. Most people have some, they just tend to misplace it. And Hope.
Hope, springing from our love of God and each other, teaches us that there is Good out there and everything is gonna be alright eventually; we are approacing something better; we are building something better; we are leaving behind something better. I, I will survive. As long as I know I how to love I…
Sorry, got a little caught up. You get it.
Right now, we need hope. Hope comes in believing that people have worth and will eventually do the right thing; that you can trust your neighbor. Hope can’t thrive in a culture where there is so much hatred over so many petty things. Yes, petty.
Most of the things we fight about melt away in the light of taking care of our families, taking care of our neighbors, trying to lift each other up. To appropriate the words of Paul of Tarsus, against these things there is no law. In an arena of hatred and selfishness there is no hope.
Hope is a child of understanding. When we listen to each other and recognize the fears and the despair of each other, when we acknowledge the losses of strangers and how they are damaged and when we try to understand these things, hope is born.
Hope is a child of faith. When we let go of the myth of control and embrace the mystery of something transcendent and good that moves creation forward, hope is born.
Hope is a child of Love. When we are able to love ourselves and other people correctly and able to love that Mystery that guides us, hope is born.
Hope is what we need right now. We face death on every side. I wish more of us understood death as a bridge and not a cliff, but that’s not the case. I wish more of us could hang on to peace and tranquility in the storm of this virus. But what hope I can offer, well, here it is.
This ain’t our first rodeo. The ride will end. We will overcome and there will be celebration. Count on it. But remember the fear that you lived in. Remember the anger at the loss of your freedom. Remember the uncertainty of our finances and our health. And when it’s all done, find the answers to your fear. Reach out beyond yourself. Seek the Mystery even in places that you may have once rejected. You don’t have to live in fear.