11. ~SOUNDINGS~: PART 3 – The Obstacles | 11th Essay – Death
by Frank L. Jordan III
Photo courtesy of Nicholas A. Tonelli
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When someone’s bodily functions cease
at the conclusion of a long and productive life,
when the causes of that dying
are as natural and painless as possible,
then it can be said that a person has experienced
a relatively harmless death.
For death is so natural, so much a part
of existing in this world,
that to experience it as a final, quiet passing
is a blessing—albeit the last blessing
in a long line of the many blessings
that can make up an earthly life.
I once heard that in Earth’s prehistoric past
there were organisms that seemed to live forever,
were virtually immortal—like jellyfish—
but the price they paid for their immortality
was that they were unable to progress and evolve.
Then nature invented death,
and the obstacles to evolution were eliminated.
What an intriguing idea, that death was invented
so that organisms could evolve,
that death was essential for those organisms to evolve.
It kind of puts death in a different light, doesn’t it?
Not an altogether positive light,
but not a negative one either—
death as a necessity,
instead of as an unnecessary evil.
But often, quite often, a death is not necessary—
not by our standards, not by anyone’s.
When a disease causes one to die prematurely
(and a week too soon can be prematurely),
when an accident ends a young life,
we are left shocked and confused,
and depending on our relationship to the departed,
sometimes totally devastated.
And why not?
We are bound to one another,
and to our fellow creatures on this planet.
The love and respect we have towards one another—
and to those animals that we have chosen
to be a part of our lives—
that love and respect has emerged
from the dawn of time to be a dominate impulse
and emotion in our daily existence.
These are impulses and emotions
that are the very essence of God,
and it is God’s work and will that love,
devotion, and protectiveness fill our lives—
and the life of this planet.
So our devotion to the life and well-being
of others and ourselves,
our dedication to the nurturance
and protection of these lives,
are emotions and realities akin
to the very outpourings of the sacred heart of God.
And yet, sometimes we die prematurely, tragically,
without any or little warning,
victims of forces that seem to mock
the life-embracing purposes of God—
and the purposes of us,
the highest expression yet known within this,
the unfolding manifestation of God.
So where does God stand in relation
to this harsh reality of existence?
I’ve come to believe that God neither causes nor wills
any human being to die prematurely
from any accident, illness, or animal attack,
from over-exposure to the elements, starvation,
or dehydration—much less from any crime,
recklessness, or suicide.
Apart from the unavoidable death of an assailant
during an act of self-defense by the one being attacked,
the sacrificial death of a firefighter or police officer
in the line of duty,
or of a military person in defense of their community,
country, or country’s interests
(or really any true sacrifice of life, for that matter),
the premature death of any human being
is outside of God’s will and purposes.
We are all God’s children.
Do we want our children to suffer and die early, in vain?
Why would God want us to, will us to?
It wouldn’t make sense.
It doesn’t make sense.
But what does make sense is that God
wants us to live long, happy, healthy lives.
And if our lives must be cut short,
it should be for a damned good reason,
like as a sacrifice for another or others.
God is hurt when we die prematurely,
and particularly heartbroken when we die in vain.
So why does this sometimes happen?
It happens because there are realities in this universe,
occurrences within this unfolding manifestation
of God’s Ultimate Reality,
that by the very nature of their existence
can sometimes hurt us, sometimes kill us.
And God contends with these realities, much like he—
as the universe undergoes transformation and evolution—
contends with the realities of elements and energies
being what they are,
gravity and electromagnetism
being what they are,
chemical reactions and life processes
being what they are,
the intrinsic natures of plants, lower animals,
and humans, collaborating with him,
being what they are,
the realities of time and chance
being what they are—
all of these things being what they are
because they make up a universe
that derives from the very nature of God.
And to derive from the Someone who is God
is to share in that Someone’s boundless
essence and reality.
But the harsh realities that can cause us pain
and premature death do not derive from God
like the universe and its processes do,
although the components of these harsh realities do.
Sometimes a tragic event can be a combination
of chance, timing, and the activity
of an inorganic phenomenon—
like when lightning strikes someone.
Sometimes a tragic reality consists of a hostile virus
or bacteria contaminating the metabolism
of a much more advanced life form than itself,
and damaging that body to the point of death.
Sometimes a deadly event occurs
due to the dementedness of a human mind,
a mind darkened by either hostility, ignorance,
irrational fear and loathing,
dementedness brought on by past traumas,
brain chemistry gone haywire,
or an antisocial make-up—
pure, or better yet, impure evil.
The important thing to remember here is that God,
our comfort and our strength,
does not want or cause any of these kinds
of things to happen.
God loves each and every one of us immeasurably,
wants only for us to live and grow,
not suffer symptoms or injuries and die in vain.
So our powerful and loving God is in open opposition
to those dangerous realities in life that are a threat
to our safety and well-being.
It is a struggle that at times appears hidden,
but can become more apparent
when we know what to look for.
Understanding how God interacts and contends
with certain life-threatening occurrences
can help us understand why they occur
the way that they do,
and why sometimes they are interrupted
and cease to occur.
It can help us understand how we as laborers
of love and enlightenment
can best join God in the struggle against them,
how we as a race of beings often have, still do,
and will continue to do so,
sometimes in amazing, incredible ways—
ways that can become
even more amazing and incredible
in the years ahead.
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