Sunday, April 17, 2011

House of Mourning

Last night, I think we walked home past a house where someone had died.  I don't know that for sure, but the circumstantial evidence was strong: police car, ambulance, paramedics bike.  The biggest indicator, a wail of grief.  Inbetween sobs, somebody was crying out 'please, please!'  I don't know with whom they were pleading: the paramedic, the departed, the universe, God?  It was indescribably painful to hear, and although we only heard it in passing it left me really quite shaken.

Made me think about death.

I think everyone is either terrified by death, or doesn't understand death.  To have such a final limit - and a limit which nobody knows when they will cross - is surely the most horrific thing.  No matter how much people try to persuade themselves that death is just a part of natural existence, I cannot believe anyone is really as resigned to death as that position would lead us to expect.  To pass from life - which means to pass from everything, including yourself - is the most appalling prospect.  I will be honest: I dread it.  In fact, I think dread could be defined as the subjective reaction to the objective prospect of death.

In the face of that, Christianity is about dying well.  Oh, I know, it's about living well, enjoying the here and now, delighting in God's good creation, loving people around us, investing in the world.  Of course it is.  But all that stuff is just the stuff that is threatened by death.

If my faith in Christ doesn't help me to die, what use is it?  If I cannot die in peace, how can I live in peace?


  1. Drawing from Pascal: Why do kings have jesters? Would they not be happy to dwell on their own greatness, how they have everything they could ever want?

    Because without entertainment, divertissements, they would have to face up to the only worry remaining: their own mortality.

  2. If your faith in Christ does help you to die well, then what power must be in that Christ that you put your trust in!