As Annie and I prepared to go to Europe, next week, it became apparent, that her Father was likely to pass. Death, or its approach, alters, everything in our lives. In spite of all our thoughts of control, we are not in control. It seems that the last word on life is the awakening of the reality that life here is fleeting. The only certainty of our earthly life is its uncertainty. Life, this biological experience, here has an end. The great fact of life, is death.
Every detail of our trip had been in place; planes, trains, buses, hotels, meals, every little moment managed to our desire. We altered our plans, plans that we had labored over. We all try and manage our time, our lives. And then our feet are knocked out from under us by something we did not account for, and we are reminded the value of life all over again. The lesson of death, is to value life.
The tragedy of death is universal, it touches every one of us. It sobers all us with its solemness. It should at the very least teach us to value our days, our hours, our minutes; and most importantly each other. Those among us who have no room for death in their human experience have not really learned to live. Again the lesson of death is life.
Paul tells us that God has removed the “sting” of death, and yet the fear of it still lingers. We fear for those who we love. That fear does in fact “sting.” This “sting” forces use to face the death of a loved one, more tenderly and touch it more gently. The older I get the more conscious I am of those whom I have loved, from whom I am now separated by death. I once was young and could not believe that death could come, it was an event that was too far in the future to dwell on. And yet, it came, it must come. There is no escape! It has or will touch each of us, if even from a distance. Far too many of us never look at our past until there is someone to miss. And then we can not stop searching through long forgotten memories.
Most of us can remember the waiting, too exhausted to pray or to even think. Our hearts numb from feeling, too many memories flooding our minds. Reality creeping into our hopes, black waves of darkness encircling our thoughts. Was it worth it? Was it worth giving our hearts so completely to another? Should we have ever allowed ourselves to become so intertwined with another living soul? Would it have been better, easier, to have never loved?
‘“Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.” (Tennyson)
Death reveals the value of our love, the depth of our forgiveness, and the yearning of eternity that lives within our souls. The purpose of all our living is to learn to love. We each must learn the lessons of death; the sorrow of suffering, the separation of the ones we love and the pain of missed moments. To deprive ourselves of this is to live a life of impoverished emotions. Emotions that actually make us human.
Sorrow is not an easy issue to solve, in fact I don’t think there is one solution. Generally, when solutions are offered, they are far too shallow to offer any real comfort. Scriptures tell us that Rachel sobbed uncontrollably for her children and even while seeking Jesus, Jairus whose daughter lay dead at home were not comforted by thoughts or prayers.
There are several kinds of people who come to comfort those in mourning. The ones who never speak of the one departed. Those who speak only about the one who is gone. The one who offers cliches of hope. And then there is the one who never speaks, but remains silent, because they know there is nothing to say. They are the ones who share in our loss. They understand that their presence is the most important thing. They know that there are no words.
I cannot believe that the living, loving soul has ceased to be. I see the absolute certainty of eternal life. Our life here in this biology speaks to something far more eternal. There is another biography, a deeper and permanent one: the biography of the soul. Everything that we now see is temporary, it vanishes away. But that which does not appear, the spiritual and unseen is eternal. The eternal that does not pass away. The material in nature is only the glove of the spiritual, as speech is the revelation of thought. Speech goes silent, the thought alone remains. The sound, of music will fade into the noise of the winds, but the music continues to fill our souls. The melody of the music never vanishes from our soul.
Like the melody, love never dies.
Love is only transfigured into something more eternal.
Love is the only permanent, everlasting reality!
Death reveals our love! Love that sees beyond the temporary and embraces that which eternal. Love that purifies and softens our heart. Love that lives on beyond our sight, beyond our imagination!
Love that overlooks faults and failures. That is what love truly is! Love that sees the best! This love, this faith takes away the sting of death!
Death has no friends, but we have no fear of death!