Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Thoughts on Old Emily...and how she met Mr. Toad

A friend of mine  and I were sharing about the seeming plethora of ways in which death has been influencing our lives.  The affects of death, we are finding, range from the barely noticeable (until they are suddenly screaming in your face) to the blindingly unavoidable (until they morph into something new).  

The experiences are crazy.  That's the best way to describe them.  Crazy.  Pain...crazy. Changes...crazy.  Thoughts...crazy. Spiritual life...crazy.  Home life...crazy.  Work life...crazy. Inner guessed it...CRAZY!  None of it seems predictable or stable.  

The image of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride comes to mind.

Only...this ride is real...and not really what a person might consider as a pleasure cruise.  It's dangerous.  And people get hurt.  People are hurting right from the start.

After chatting with my friend, and then making the long drive home from my office, the opening lines of a famous Emily Dickinson poem came to mind...

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me

Are you kidding, Emily?!?!  This is no kindly stop on the continuum of life! What I'm seeing here is absolute hell!!!

Obviously, dear Emily's genteel characterization of death--Death, the kind gentleman who offers a glimpse of eternity and immortality--seemed far less elegant and poetic to me today than it has in all my years of studying literature.

In the past few years, death has made several haltingly awful stops in my life and in the lives of people I cherish.  I have listened to anguished parents, children, siblings, and spouses all but screaming at the top of their lungs after Death made his UNkind stops at their doorsteps. I have wept and grieved and wailed myself.  I have held my little girl as she has wept and grieved and wailed. 

The scenic route through the Valley of the Shadow of Death is pretty gruesome.  You NEED anti-emetics...big time!

And the thing of it is that when Death drags you on his tour de force through YOUR don't make a solo journey...though you never feel more alone.  Everyone in your home, everyone who matters to you, and everyone to whom you matter, is propelled into desert places, into the vortex of fear, into confusion and suffering, into a community of wandering mourners who cannot seem to settle down.  

No one knows what is coming next. No one knows themselves. No one knows each other. No one knows where they are or where they are going. No one knows their rights or where they stand. Nothing is certain except that Death came and left tears and uncertainty in his wake.

Death, I hate to be the one to tell you, but you're a jerk and nobody likes you.  You have no real friends.  Your breath is bad.  You stink. You're ugly. To put it plainly...I hate you.  Oh...and by the way, my dad, He said to tell you

These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7:15-17). 

And guess what else He said?  He said,

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4).

You are still the worst person I know, Death, and I will hate you until I die. But when you think you've had the last word, know that it will just be the last word you ever have with me because where I'll be you can never go.  You lose.  That's how the story ends.

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