On any given street in any given neighborhood anywhere in the world, life’s parade is on the march. At one house, a new baby has just come home from the hospital. At the next, a couple is dividing up a household as the divorce becomes final. At the third, frenetic wedding planning is keeping everyone on their toes. Next, is an elderly couple reluctantly seeing the need to sell and find housing more adapted to their increasing limitations. At the corner, a family is reeling from the suicide of their teenage daughter. And on and on it goes.
Fifty-three years ago, on August 18, 1968, death poked a great big hole in the up-till-now solid, intact, fabric of my life as my Aunt Hazel ‘finished her race.’ I distinctly remember riding my bike up the road and thinking how strange that, for everyone else, everything seemed to be as before; normal, uninterrupted, happy, ongoing, full steam ahead, while, to me, life suddenly felt hollow, unkind, dark. It was the first of a long list of unexpected, unwanted intrusions into my sense of security. Coming to grips with death’s reality for the first time, at 15, was not fun, was not pretty, would not be over in the morning like a bad dream. My world shifted on its axis, and stayed tilted, because I went on to discover that there are lots of different ‘deaths,’ endings, disappointments that are a part of everyone’s story.
It’s easy to get morbid and depressed when focusing only on all of that. But, then there are spectacular sunrises and sunsets, newborn, fluffy baby chicks and wriggly puppies, love letters, family reunions, gold medals, and chocolate! So, where do we situate ourselves on the spectrum of all that we encounter on our journeys? Are we Eeyore or Orphan Annie? Are we up or are we down? Well, Jesus came offering us his life in exchange for our dead-end lives, life that was overflowing with joy, that was securely in him, that would never come to an end – a deathless life (such a deal!) That’s what Paul was describing to the church of the Galatians: “ . . . the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me – we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine!” (2:20, TPT) So, okay, stuff still happens. Hurts still hurt. Life’s subtractions still tear at us. But on balance, eternal living! The pain of childbirth gives way to the joy of new life. The hassles of moving give way to the pleasures of the new home. The exhausting reading assignments, lab work, studying for exams, all give way to the satisfaction of that diploma in hand, a job well done. See you all tomorrow at 10 AM. Salud! Prost! Santé! L’chaim!, Cheers, y’all! PD