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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Death Is Absurd

 You hear people say things all the time like, "Death is a part of life." That's true as far as it goes. The crucial truth, however, is that death is not supposed to be part of life. That's why it's always so shocking, so unwelcome.

I've never met a boring person in my life. Even the people who had a skill at being boring were hilariously boring. There is a charm in those who draw a contrast in life, by deliberately not attempting to be interesting. Such a person is his own kind of interesting.

I suppose what I mean to say is that people are special, and life is meaningful, even if it's hard. And that we should not get used to death, or even accept it. I'm not advocating reality-denial; I more boldly suggest that we live in a truer reality.

If people are unique and unrepeatable, how much more unique and unrepeatable is the God who made us?

This is the God who came down, and shared our reality with all its sorrow, even knowing that he would raise up his friend from the grave by a miracle in the next few moments, still wept with us, and for us.

We're losing friends and neighbors all over the place due to this evil virus, but more than this, so many friends are losing parents and grandparents, and it's always so sad to me, even if they were old and full of years. Like I said, death is absurd. It will always be absurd. It will always be wrong.

I still look back with joy on friends and loved ones who have died, but we know the joy is tainted. The joy is the fullness of their lives, snatched away by death. When we laugh and smile about them, it is the joy of the gifts they gave us, not any credit to the death which took them away from us. It is altogether right and good that we should remember those things, because those gifts made life a little more bearable and even enjoyable in their company.

Have you ever stopped to think about how elaborate a funeral usually is? Quite aside from prayers for the repose of their soul, I think a lot of the elaborate ritual is for us. It's hard to describe someone else, isn't it? What if you had to describe what someone else means to you? Suppose they weren't there to laugh, or smile, or tear up, or tell you to be quiet, and stop making such a fuss? Wouldn't it be hard--and isn't it hard--to tell other people what someone else means to you?

As I think about all the people I know and love, it is a mercy to us that we can express this love for one another nonverbally many times, because it seems words are insufficient.

Therefore, if one person whom I love is almost completely indescribable, then my entire life is full of indescribable mystery. Why are we wasting time doing nothing of consequence? Find the mysteries. Enjoy the mysteries. Contemplate the mysteries. Not only in ourselves, but more importantly, in the God who made us.

The reason I love words so much is that the person who writes or speaks words is attempting to describe the indescribable. He or she means to bring clarity to the mystery. We do not want or desire to be overwhelmed by mystery, at least not in the main. We want to love mystery, to contemplate it. We want to understand our place in the cosmos.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Come, Holy Spirit

 This is one of those times where we may not know why He even bothers with us. We are commanded, "do not grieve the Holy Spirit," and we often do. But His love is relentless, because the "desire" of God is relentless.

The Holy Spirit is the power for us to keep the law of Love. We have no power on our own. We talk a good game about this, but if we really actually believed it, I think we would understand our sins and the struggle against them much more clearly. You cannot grit your teeth, and please God by your own efforts. You can plead with the Holy Spirit. Quoting the poet, Paul said, "in him we live and move and have our being."

Something Bishop Barron said once is floating into my brain. Something about the gentleness of God in Providence, that there is no violence or coercion in God's governance of the world. And yet, being the feeblest of all, we have the most trouble being gentle with ourselves. We are indeed proud sometimes, maybe most of the time.

It's time to get honest in prayer with the Holy Spirit. I might as well tell Him that sometimes, what I am being called to is not joyful or easy. Even if I run completely the other way, the Holy Spirit will not give up on me. Jesus Christ already saw the worst of me, and joyfully died for me. The Holy Spirit has the same outlook on the entire situation. The problem is that we do not share God's outlook. Oftentimes, we would rather punish ourselves, and create some fictional standard to believe in, rather than agree with God.

This is how we end up as the older son in the parable of the prodigal son, if we persist. Let's not do that, if we feel His grace empowering us to make a better choice.