Consider the ends, we’re told — when the ends are as dim as our beginnings. We do not know about our birth; nor will we know much about our death.
Contemplation of death is a gift life gives us. Fear of death — that is a great danger that can only be overcome by contemplation… and death.
When I was younger, and death seemed distant, it seemed like a small bird in a cage, fluttering against its wire walls. Now that I am older, death seems more like an insolent, angry child — and I am a small bird in the narrow wire cage.
“Once, there was a boy who lived on the edge of a forest and on the edge of a town. His parents were cruel because they were afraid; they could not keep him safe because they were afraid they could not keep him safe. And so
Death is like a gnarled tree that groans and lows across a night-clad fen, except that it travels with us and we cannot leave it for a dry road and smiling town.
When the gods could not save a mortal, they would transform them into an olive tree, a pine tree, or an iris. When we cannot save ourselves, we transform ourselves into stones — our legs still and harden and our faces still. Much better to be a plant than a stone; better still to live.
When Abraham saw that Sodom was to be destroyed, he pleaded with the Lord: “If there are five good men in the city, save it!” I must plead only for myself. And yet, so often, my pleas seem too weak.
My children often ask about salvation and their new bodies. They wonder what their new bodies will look like. They remind me: do not neglect your body. It, too, is a gift. Nor is it something external to you — that way is the way of the Gnostics. You are your body; to be bodiless is to be something less than what you are, a wraith hungering for substance. That is why salvation is not salvation from a body but to a body and from an earth to a new earth. We are not spirits trapped in a body; we are spirit and body, spun together by the master weaver, torn beyond immediate repair, leading us to conclude that the body is foreign and the spirit is all — and yet, someday, the threads will be respun and there will be unity, again, and what a weaving that will be.
“Hello, friend. What is your teleology?”
“I do not know, except in the vaguest sense — what is yours?”