I’m really looking forward to the day death dies.
I've taught myself to think of things from distant perspectives. This is not difficult for a Believer.
At some point, in the church lessons of my youth, someone gave us a handout or a bookmark that said:
“Will this matter in a thousand years?”
It really struck me at the time, and it has obviously stuck with me. Even now, at this very moment, I am sitting at my laptop doing my word of the day/Lent writing while floating in a sea of playful destruction; toys and books scattered all around the family room, a bowl of peanut butter with half gnawed celery stalks sticking out of it, a matchbox tractor peeking out of a toddler size sock and a broken Jack-in-the-box clown staring at me.
I seriously said to my achy head, spent from a day full of grandkids (their mom was working a 12 hour shift at Farmington Urgent Care Clinic) “Will these toys and such, being strewn about, matter in a thousand years?" And then I chuckled without chuckling, because I’m too tired to laugh…”Heck, it won’t matter tomorrow, even.” And so I sit in a colorful pool of grandparenthood.
I get to thinking about a thousand years from now and I wonder if, by then, we will finally have been through the much anticipated, mysteriously unpredictable but threateningly close Second Coming.
Then I get to thinking about the fact that I have sung at an average of three funerals a month in the last while. It’s been sort of insane. I’m a real believer in being present at these pivotal times in life. Funerals pretty much trump all other activities for me. I finally had to change the payment method for my daytime guitar students because I had to cancel so many times for funerals. I am blessed to be able to use my voice to comfort, and not have my own emotions overtake me. I acknowledge this as a gift and I do not take it lightly. I don’t mind the time, and travel, and rescheduling that funerals require, but the picking away at the heart that repeated loss brings is disconcerting. And exhausting. And frankly, is hurts.
So I, for one, will be celebrating in a major way, however spirits get to celebrate, when we as a massive family of God finally get to be done with death. Can you even imagine?
Years ago, when it was possible for people to buy up to four city cemetery plots per household, our family purchased 20 plots in the Farmington City Cemetery. I was really surprised how comforting it felt to know where we were going to end up, unless we were lost at sea or caught in some other catastrophic demise. Libby and I even tried-out our spots once, laying our bodies on the warm summer grass. Our friend Cindy Gardner was with us, and she tried out hers up above us. Our neighbors the Baileys have plots next to the Gardners. The Hefners are just west of us, and the Barlows and Palmers up east of us. Each of those families, come to think of it, has already planted one of their treasures in one of their plots. Ah, me.
Death, from the underbelly, is such a mysterious unknown. Really, so much guesswork for us that remain. Faith is comforting. But faith, by definition, is not knowledge. We have somehow trained ourselves as humans to trust knowledge more than we do faith, which from the perspective of a thousand years from now, will seem pretty juvenile I think. But even that is a guess.
All I’m saying, because my head hurts and I don’t want to think that deep tonight, is that one day we will all be dead. And when we are all dead, and God says, “OK Folks, time for the next phase.” Then we will get to have bodies that do not get strep A or lung cancer or congestive heart failure and there won’t be car accidents or planes flying into buildings and there won’t be death.
On the other hand, I also have this strange thought that repeatedly visits me, where we are all sitting around in heaven and someone starts a conversation like this:
“Well, and how did you die?”
Then we will all get to tell our stories, exciting or boring as they may be, and the rest of us will shake our heads, or put our arms around each other, or gasp with shock and awe or even laugh at what adventures we had in our bodies, with their varied entrances and exits.
On days when the evening news sputters the tragic information of massive killings or tsunami-like tragedies, I imagine the wafting of spirits floating upward. I picture the gates being flung open and hosts of loved ones running out to meet the crowd - the jubilation on the other side creating a perfect counterbalance for the sorrow that is here.