The Pulling Back of the Grey, Red Curtain

Last week I wrote a post about the reality of death and how it should affect our lives.

This past week, I found myself re-reading my words as if they were written by someone else, my mind in a blur after hearing about the sudden death of a colleague at work.

Part of me wishes I could say I knew him well.  Another part of me is very thankful that I did not know him well.  I am not sure I could handle the death of someone I was evenly remotely close to right now.

The thing about this particular circumstance is that I am faced with questions like, “Could we have done something more to help him?”; “Did we call the ambulance fast enough?”. 

Ultimately, the answers to those questions do not matter.  Yes, they might help the ones left behind to feel better but they will not bring him back.

And they certainly will not lead us toward the road of peace and understanding.

In Singapore, funerals come together in a matter of days.  Before the cremation (which is most common here because we have so little land to spare), there is a two to three day period called the wake.  In traditional Chinese culture, it is the time allowed for the soul of the individual to travel from this world to the next.

In Christian cultures, it is a celebration of life. 

I do not often write about faith on my blog.  It is not because I am not proud of it or because I am ashamed to be a Christ follower.  I suppose my reasoning is simple and rather selfish: I hope more people will read my words if I keep “controversial” religious ideas out of my work.

But I cannot write about death without talking about hope and salvation and the life that is to come.  The reason why we as Christians grieve and celebrate the passing on of a loved one is because we know we will see them again.  Call us crazy, unintelligent, or whatever other demeaning adjectives you can come up with. 

We believe that death is not the end and therefore we have hope.

There are very few circumstances I can think of where there is more of a need for hope than when a loved one dies suddenly.

I am praying for this man’s family.  I am praying for his friends who did not know Christ.  I am praying that the death of this man brings people to our Savior.

And perhaps most important above all, I am praying against the power of despair and sadness. 

Because in the end, those who believe as I do believe this: love always wins and death is not the end. 

As a wise wizard once said, “No, the journey doesn’t end here.  Death is just another path, one that we all must take.”

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Haikus

 

I.

A grey street stretches

Long. Wind blows hurrying me

Along.  Lost finding home.

 

II. 

Swirling pathways move

A quagmire ebbs and flows in

Tomorrow might be calm

 

III.

If mysteries are

What await tomorrow, please

Leave me in my bed

 

Death and All of His Friends

There have been several deaths of famous people in the past few weeks the most prominent being Philip Seymour Hoffman and Shirley Temple Black and of course Nelson Mandela at the end of 2013.

The reality is there are a lot of people dying every day.  They do not get a news headline or an obituary in the New York Times.  Some pass with family and friends surrounding them.  Some die alone.

Some die as the result of needless violence and vengeance.  Some inherit or develop a disease for which there is no cure.

I have started thinking about how death affects life.  I think perhaps understanding death is an important aspect of understanding life.

I am not belittling death or the circumstances which surround it.  Death is a terrible thing and needless death is incomprehensibly evil.

But I think we live in a culture that fears death when we should be embracing it.

I am not suggesting we make the death of those around us a cheerful occasion nor am I saying that we should seek death out.  Both of those things would be disrespectful and inappropriate. But I think we need to live knowing that death is ever present.

We need to remember that life is precious and every bit of every single person’s life on this planet matters.

I know there are a lot of arguments for and against what I’m saying.  But for me personally, I want to live my life knowing that death is an essential part of life.

Through death we understand what is most important to us; through death we see the world in a different perspective.

And maybe, just maybe, it is through death’s lens that we truly see the beauty of life.

*The title of this blog is taken from Coldplay’s song of the same title.