I’ve dreamed about dying lots of times in my life. Often I dreamed of falling, and I’d wake in that sweaty panic followed by relief. I’ve dreamed of drowning and woken up wrapped in tight blankets, gasping for fresh night air. I’ve even dreamed of being shot, and feeling like I’d been dropped down a dark hole almost before the noise of the gun stopped echoing. I have a vivid dream life, and often that is unpleasant.
But this last week I haven’t dreamed of dying–I’ve lived with the daily thought of dying. Remember how I talked about a long sadness that hands you your coat in the morning on your way out the door? The climbing body count of this virus has done that with me this week.
I can’t be alone in this…some of you must be following the CDC’s rising numbers. It’s nightmarish–the whole thing is just medieval. The ENTIRE WORLD has stopped, while we sit in our houses like we’re under siege from an invisible enemy, because we are.
And living like this is so hard. But in a way, I don’t mind it–because it makes prayer easier.
So few distractions. So few excuses. And the almost comical thought that God has seen this sort of thing before–that death was ALWAYS present to Christ. That the monstrosity, the unfairness of sickness and death are no surprise to Him at all. That He saved His one recorded crying spell for the death of a friend.
And while we’ve been distracting ourselves with tv at night while Drew is asleep, I’ve come across this theme–death is natural and part of life. And that is WRONG.
Death isn’t okay. Death is the last enemy. Death is the one thing ALL humans can agree on hating. Death is the time when we have to really find out if what we’ve believed all our lives is true. It’s not something to just accept. I mean yeah, accept it, but it’s okay to be horrified by it.
Phil Yancey says that grief never gets easier–you can lose people and lose people, but you don’t get better at it. And you shouldn’t. And I finally realized why someone might want to be a doctor right now–to fight that enemy tooth and nail. And why you’d want to be a nurse–to care for those who are facing mortality, to give them your bravery for as long as they need it.
I’m too weak and I get too shaky at the sight of blood to have ever considered that kind of profession, even if I was smart enough to do all the classes and internships and exams and stuff. But God bless those responders dealing with this all the time. I’m coming face to face with my mortality every day while you grapple with yours AND other people’s. I’m sitting here thinking and writing and you’re out there with a sword in your hand.
And it’s no accident that this is Holy Week. Jesus walked into death with His eyes wide open, to pull us all through. The only One who ever went through that door and then came back to tell the tale.
God bless, team.