Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Fragile We Are

Death hovers like the child underfoot in the kitchen, invisible until you trip over him. Stories of death seem prevalent this week; the thirty-nine year old acquaintance, the seventy-six year old husband, the five motorcycle riders killed on the local highway. The stories seep into conversation, show up in newspapers, are whispered about at work; “Her husband died yesterday. I can’t believe she’s working today.” They remind us that we don’t know when we will get tripped up, when we will fall.

“It’s senseless death that disturbs me,” my coworker said.

“Right,” said I, “as opposed to healthy, normative, fun logical death.” Death still surprises us. It wasn’t part of the plan---was a result of the curse. That is why we fight it so hard, struggle so against it. I understand what my coworker meant. When both my friends, both named Eric (the other with a K) died it was difficult. Prayers for healing not answered for this life; cut down in their prime. Seemingly senseless, the question without easy answer.

“Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Christ, addressing the newspaper accounts, the whispers and whys identifies death as a wake-up call. Repent, he says. Make a decision today. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

The message echoes through the scriptures as we hear the Preacher say, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting; Because that is the end of every man and the living takes it to heart.”

That is why I delight in the dark red roses blooming outside my front door. Leaving for work and returning home they remind me that life has colour and sweet perfume. Possibilities abound. That too is why I enjoy my forty-five minute commute (most days). A week ago the eastern sky was bright pink, Mt. San Jacinto bathed in crimson. Yesterday two coyotes raced across the highway and into the shadow of the windmills. So I am reminded to embrace life while I have it.

As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow: For soon it is gone and we fly away….So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

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