Looking at Death
One of the problems with our perishability is that it forces us to look in a particular direction. In many ways we are like an ancient sailor always with one eye to the edge of the ocean, whose mind cannot fully take in the beauty of the night sky without worrying about falling off of the earth. And we look, not towards something but sadly, towards nothing at all. For though our death will come at a particular moment it will actually be the end of our moments, our mutability and our memory making. We will exist, not as we are, but in parts, scattered to be found by the God who loves us.
Before perishability became our problem though, our gaze was of an entirely different kind. For though we experienced change in the garden (e.g. day and night, one visit of God from another) our mutability had us always looking up. You see, we knew that time had found a special place among things. We knew that life moved forward. We knew that God somehow walked among us and yet remained the immutable One. On the whole then change was good, for it brought us closer to the next encounter with the Lord, and we looked up because that is usually where He can be found.
“…and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Mark 14:62
Death, however, has put an end to all of that. For now, whenever time enters our minds it is not to playfully position ourselves in order to better take in the sky, not at all. Rather, time reminds us that we and everything around us are changing, moving even, toward the end.
Death then has become the great distraction as well as the final evil. It is our monster brought about through a Frankenstein-like experiment, one which we both fear and are captivated by. And God, who did not make, sanction or bless the death of our first parents and every human being since, has become less and less the focal point of our lives.
“…because God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.” Wisdom 1:13
Yet again, here is the irony. To survive our end we must trust the One who remembers us even as we lose focus. We must look forward to a present where we will behold God’s face once again. We must embrace change, because it was never about death anyway.