Our next door neighbor passed away recently. Doyle was in his eighties, so it wasn't as tragic as it could have been I suppose. Still, he left behind a wife who had already lost her first husband.
We had gotten to know the two of them somewhat. We would visit them from time to time. We would look out our kitchen window and see his white head as he sat in his recliner reading the paper, watching TV or chatting with his wife. Now the white head is gone and, as E and D have both said, it just won't be the same anymore.
We don't ever get used to death do we? Somehow we know, at a basic, fundamental level, that it's just not right. At the memorial service we overheard Doyle's sister say, over and over again: "It's shocking, it's just shocking". And it is, isn't it? Even though Doyle had been very sick for a couple of months, even though he was in his eighties, even though realistically it didn't come as a big surprise, still, it is shocking.
But here is something even more shocking: "Since we humans have flesh and blood (and are subject to death), Jesus himself became flesh and blood, Jesus took on our humanity, so that by his death he could break the power of that grim reaper who holds the power of death —that is, the devil— and free all of us who all our lives were held in slavery by our fear of death" (Hebrews 2:14,15). Now the devil still holds the power of death, and he will until the end of this age, but the devil's power is broken. Death no longer has any mastery over us. Now death is just stepping from one room into another. One moment I'm here talking with you, the next moment I'm in the other room talking to Doyle. And before long we've all stepped into the next room.
Through the looking glass... Through the wardrobe... Back to Eden... Back home.
As John Eldredge has said, "we get the whole thing back". Everything that matters. We let go of it, we go out naked and empty-handed like we came in, but we get it all back, new and restored. And so much more.
We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. (T. S. Eliot)
Look, I am making all things new! (Jesus of Nazareth)
See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come. (Song 2:11–12)
I was walking in the woods and fields behind our house one evening four months after Brent’s death. My heart was so aware of the loss—not only of Brent, but in some ways, of everything that mattered. I knew that one by one, I would lose everyone I cared about and the life I am still seeking. In the east, a full moon was rising, bright and beautiful and enormous as it seems when it is just above the horizon. Toward the west, the clouds were turning peach and pink against a topaz sky. Telling myself to long for eternity feels like telling myself to let go of all I love—forever. It feels like accepting the teaching of Eastern religions, a denial of life and all God created. We lose it all too soon, before we can even begin to live and love. But what if ? What if nature is speaking to us? What if sunrise and sunset tell the tale every day, remembering Eden’s glory, prophesying Eden’s return? What if it shall all be restored?
(Desire, John Eldredge. p. 107–8)