Easter Sunday, April 4,2021
This is the season of death and resurrection.
Wednesday, the man next door killed himself. His wife was taking a shower, so he took an old rifle his grandfather from Asturias, Spain had left him, went out into the driveway and shot himself.
Nine months ago, when I finished “Entering Eternity With Ease,” I brought a copy next door and we sat down for an hour’s conversation with husband and wife. I tried to explain how suicide had gone up exponentially because people were severely depressed by the covid lockdown, and I wrote the book to console both victims and survivors that life is meant to be joy-filled, and not anxious and depressive. I emphasized Kubler-Ross’s stages of dying and how we had to go through depression to finally accept death, and we could end up with joy.
Then the man next door immediately blurted out, “I often want to kill myself.” When I asked him why he said that life was too painful for him. I already knew that he had a severe heart condition, and was depressed by the covid lockdown which was now about five months into our community life. I have no idea if he ever read it, but Wednesday when his wife came stumbling into our house screaming that he killed himself, and blood was all over him, she kept repeating, “He promised me that he would not kill himself, and he waited till I was in the shower to go out and do it.”
To be or not to be, that is the question. To live or to die, that is also the question. Death or resurrection, that is the question. Or is it?
To be AND not to be- maybe that’s the question. To live AND to die-could that be the question? To die and also to rise from the dead, maybe that’s an answer.
Evolution tells us that every atom in our body was born 13 billion years ago in the big bang. Biology tells us that every atom in our body is replaced by other atoms at least once a hear. Science also tells us that all the atoms are eternal and go on forever throughout the universe. 13 billion years of time up till now are but a drop in the ocean of eternity/forever.
That is why I believe in a God, a higher power, who is the Soul of this mystery. As a young man, I used to joke that to believe in God is to believe that there is someone out there who isn’t stupid. (That is why I loved it when President Obama said that international relations consist in not doing anything stupid. Now that is Godlike!)
This super-intelligent ISNESS, this infinite, transcendent power which energizes the universe is symbolized by Jesus on the Cross. The Crucifixion symbolizes for me the vertical and the horizontal, the temporal and the eternal, the impermanent and the permanent, both death and resurrection at the same time.
Good Friday was not called Bad Friday by the first followers of Jesus because somehow they intuited that out of evil comes good, out of death comes eternal life. To die is horrible. To die is unjust. To die is not right. To die is hopeless, heartless, loveless. But for Jesus and his followers, death was the door to divinity. No matter what you may believe about the true nature of Jesus, you have to admit that Jesus is the most admired person in the history of the planet, despite what the Beatles said about themselves being more famous than Jesus. (Hopefully, in jest.)
The Christ of the Resurrection has been called by Father Richard Rohr “The Universal Christ” with the subtitle: “Another Name for Everything.” The universe, according to Rohr is a “Christ-Soaked Universe.” I would say that because of the Risen Christ, every atom in the universe is finally tinged with divinity. So, we have all been graced as infinity incarnate as symbolized by Christ.
This is also true of the man next door, who in despair could no longer bear the existential pain of his humanness. Now he is alive in eternal reality. Amen