Coming to life
What would he like to have said at his funeral? G.K. Chesterton thought for a moment, and then responded with these four words: “Look! He’s moving!”
How would you like to hear this brief statement declared at yours? This shocking comment would surely make for a memorable and very short eulogy. Anyone who managed to remain conscious would be talking about what took place in the next few moments for years to come.
“He’s what? What did that nice man just say, dear?”
“Oh, something about old Gilbert moving around or some such thing. If so, it seems we are going to be missing out on a nice lunch. Hey, wait a minute. What’s with all the commotion over there by the casket? What in tarnation is going on here? Hang on to your hairnet Hannah: Gilbert is moving; he’s baaack!”
Imagine what it would be like to watch someone actually come back to life. Wouldn’t it be terrifying and absolutely amazing? One minute the atmosphere is somber, sad and subdued. Grief hangs over the gathering; hope is hard to come by. Not much is going on. And the next…well, it depends on where you live, but even in the most reserved society everyone present would likely be freaking out.
If there ever was a time to cut loose and get hysterical, this would be the time. A sudden sign of life, even if it is ever so subtle, is something to celebrate.
As you may have noticed, dead people have a tendency to stay dead. This observation is nothing new. That’s just the way it is. Each new generation makes the same sad discovery. Some things never change. And it feels like it has been going on like this forever. There is a time to be born and a time to die. Tragedy strikes someone each day. Death hits hard. And it hurts deeply.
That being the case, it is awfully difficult to upstage a resurrection. What could you possibly recommend as an encore presentation? Watching the Oscars?
On another occasion, good old G.K. mentioned that although he didn’t mind being told that he was going to die, it was also nice to be reminded every now and then that he wasn’t dead yet. What was he getting at?
As a practicing catholic, this kind and clever comment was directed towards some of his Christian teachers. What was the problem? My guess is that there had been a little too much emphasis on preparing for death and a not quite enough teaching on how to make the most out of his life.
Death is certainly not to be trifled with. But then again, neither is life. Each life matters. Every person counts. But the problem is that consciousness and motion do not necessarily indicated the presence of life in any substantial sense or form. Is it possible to be technically alive and yet mostly dead? Sure it is. This happens all the time.
Take this computer for instance. Several days ago it was hit with a debilitating virus and virtually everything froze up and shut down. At one level it still worked, in the sense that you could turn it on, but nothing really worked. The screen lite up but that was it. While I doubt if a requiem has been written for such a specific occasion, it would have been entirely appropriate to play one.
From my perspective, there were very few signs of life. My old laptop had become mostly dead and practically useless. One minute it was functioning fully and the next it barely worked at all.
During this computer downtime a book by Tony Campolo called Carpe Diem or Seize the Day caught my attention. While dealing with a mostly dead device, I read about Dr. Campolo’s experience dealing with mostly dead people. That was his impression, anyway. It seemed that wherever he went he ran into “dead” people. Many students at the university where he worked seemed to be apathetic about life. And then when he travelled and spoke at a variety of churches, he often observed the very same thing.
My impression is that Mr. Campolo wrote this book not out of a desire to find fault or to criticize and condemn. He wrote it rather partly to avoid such a problem in his own life and partly to help other people find a way to come back to life. And the solution he offers is not simplistic.
Have you ever felt dead? Have you ever thought that there has got to be more to life than this? Who hasn’t? Be encouraged. It is possible to eventually find a way to come back to life.
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