No one has died near me recently. That's not necessarily what this post is about.
But, I'm coming more and more to realize that I think about death A LOT. I find myself wondering if this is a natural thing, what with this "line of work" and all, or if I'm half a bubble off or something.
I've been around lots of death in my lifetime; people I knew and people I didn't. I have seen it come quickly, and I've seen it lurk in the corners for a long time before actually happening. I have seen old people die "well," and I've seen young people succumb to freak accidents.
So...I think about death. Now, no one freak out...I'm not planning my own or anything. I like living and all that jazz. I don't live in fear of death. Death is just something that I ponder.
My cousin, Brian, is very sick with cancer. He's not old. I am not sure how old he is, but I don't think he's more than 40. The surgeons and doctors have said that surgery is not an option anymore. Brian has to decide if he wants to take chemotherapy to slow the progression or not. From what I hear, he's handling his illness with humor and grace. I don't know what's going on in his mind right now, as HE faces death. I don't know what's going on in his siblings' minds as they face the fact that their brother is dying. I don't know how his mom and dad are handling this turn of events.
I just find myself wondering if THEY are thinking about death.
For better or worse, we live in a largely death-avoidant culture. We don't want to think in these "morbid" ways, but instead live without thinking about how we will meet our "end."
Now, I'm not a "pie in the sky" theologian. BUT, considering I AM a theologian, a pastor, and a teacher, I can't help but think about how embracing death helps us embrace life. You know that old saying, "You don't know what you've got til it's gone." Well, similarly, I think we sometimes miss what life is about when we don't realize that someday life, as we know it, will be over. But, when this life is done, I don't think that's our end.
In seminary, we had a big discussion on "When you're dead, you're dead." I had never heard that before I went to seminary, and it was a bit of a shock when I heard of it. But, after much thinking, I think that's the way I go too...When you're dead, you're dead. However, I also believe Jesus' words very much, "I am with you ALWAYS, even to the end of the age." Not just OUR age, but THE age. And I think that because of this promise, we don't have to fear death. We are never alone. Neither life nor death or things present or past or future, or any of that STUFF can separate us from the love of God. And if we're never separated from the love of God, that means that we're never alone, never forgotten, and never without hope. So, I think that when we're dead, we're dead, but God is still with us. There is no place Christ has not been, and so Christ is with us everywhere, even in death. There is still hope. For Brian, for me, and for all. So maybe it's not so much "Death" I think about...Maybe it's hope.