Death comes first, but never speaks last

“forest pathway” by Osman Rana on Unsplash

Maybe I’m mistaken, but I don’t buy the version of the Jesus story that portrays the resurrection as if it were a tragic opera of some sort...

Like it was all a part of this big angelic show designed for us heathens where Jesus got up, walked around for a few days, and then floated off to heaven in his final grand passive-aggressive move before taking a seat at the right hand of the Father as the curtains closed.

That just doesn’t pass the sniff test for me. 
(Kinda smells iffy.)

Ready for my layman’s interpretation? Alright, here we go…

I don’t see resurrection as being about an afterlife. I see — and have experienced — resurrection as a thing that happens in this life: A metaphorical, more-than-literal resurrection that happens over and over again in human form.

Yes, this is just one way to see it, but for me, it’s the most useful way.

That being said, death always comes first. And death feels like death. It’s not glamorous at all — it’s horrible. When going through a metaphoric death ourselves, it’s easy to wonder why we aren’t emerging as gloriously as Jesus did in that operatic story we heard. Why are we still feeling the pangs of this death days, weeks, months, even years later?

This is the way it goes.

We can’t escape the fact that before any kind of metaphoric resurrection, there has to be a metaphoric death.

What matters is how we face death. Do we give it the biggest focus? The last word? Do we place our faith in death and end the story there? Or do we know that this is the theme of the human experience — death followed by resurrection?

In the Bible, this seems to be a repeating theme: Death and carnage everywhere followed by new life and a small step forward in human consciousness.

How many times have you been brought to your knees — figuratively or literally — in your short lifetime?

I can think of several times when I swore I was done for. There was no way out. I was ruined. There was no way I was going to recover...

Yet, here I am writing to you today. Most of those deaths have faded from memory and been washed clean. Some of them still carry scars. All of them have been essential events that have shaped me. As I look back, I see that none of those deaths have ever had the final word.

Now, when I think of those who’ve literally died in my life (and on the news), it’s easy to think that they didn’t get off quite so easily. As someone who’s been sucker punched with deep loss at a young age, I can honestly say that those I’ve lost aren’t dead to me (in many cases, we actually get along much better these days than we ever did because they actually listen to me now).

Who am I to speak for them? I can’t even pretend to know what they’re currently experiencing — if anything — all I can say is that they live on in my memory and in my heart and are, in a different way, still alive.

And so the trajectory of human life goes on. We live, die, and are risen anew many times throughout our days as are those we know and love.

The challenge is in keeping a soft heart until the throes of death fade into resurrection. This is one of the many things that faith means to me.