I couldn’t begin to count the times that I have read these words, in books, in prayers, in personal writings: Why did God let him die? or I prayed for his health, but he did not get better. Instead, he died.
I remember specifically right after September 11, 2001, how many people called out how God did not want this to happen.
As though God wants nothing to do with death. Or with those who have died. Or, indeed, that healing, itself, has nothing to do with death.
We forget, each and every second that we live, that it is we, bound in our skin with the rhythm of our hearts pounding, that see life as health. As wholeness. As all that there is.
We forget, each and every second that we live, that we are only in our bodies to experience, to sense, to understand. Without our bodies, our tools for gaining knowledge don’t exist. Literally.
But, really, that’s all that there is.
In skin, we poke about and kick things. We get our fingers sticky with honey. We watch a row of ants climb over our leg, lying still in the wet grass. We wonder at the night sky, and we blow atoms to bits to see what’s inside.
But, really, that’s all that there is.
Out of skin, we reunite with all the rest of the universe. We reunite with God in spirit. There’s no getting around it then: there’s no right to choose, no freedom to deny His existence, no creating alternative explanations.
It’s all Him. And it’s all us. As one.
But here we get to forget all that. We get to be thrilled by art, and by fast race cars, and by silence.
And we forget that it is part of our design to be in our skin for only a limited time. That we have an internal, eternal clock stitched into us at our birth that tells our time. And we forget that at a certain point in time, a specific point in time, our point in time, the clock stops and we leave our skin.
Death, then, is seen as loss. As the worst kind of loss. Better to lose our awareness of God and each other than to die. Better to turn in on ourselves and breed in our hearts hatred of those around us than to die. Better to learn to laugh at those who suffer than to die.
And so we have taught ourselves to stop seeing death as a form of life.
We talk with our pets and to those animals in the zoo. We talk to our plants. Some even talk to the clouds and the sky, letting them stand in the place of God.
But who takes the time to talk with an AIDS virus? Or a cancer cell? Or the hand that squeezes a heart until there is no more breath in the body?
What would they tell us, if we did take the time and energy to communicate with them, do you think?
It is our job to come in and to destroy. It is our challenge to take the energy from the living cells, the functioning organs, and make something new.
It is who we are.
It’s not death, really, that we rebel against so strongly.
In life in the skin, there’s us. There’s God. And there’s time.
It’s all got to work together somehow. It’s all got to agree in order for us to have our prayers answered.
I think that if it were just God and us, then we would have an easier time of it all. But somehow, having time, with its impersonal, imperative, imposing, authoritative last word on everything, dictate to us, it just makes it all too hard for us to endure.
It’s time for you to grow a tooth. It’s time for you to start menstruating. It’s time for you to say goodbye to your child. It’s time.
There’s no escaping the clock of life. And death is just part of that clock. Just another number on its face.
It’s time to die.
And so the agents of death go to work.
Death is just a part of being-in-skin-ness. The black to the white. The silence to the sound. The back to the front.
The life of the out-of-skin-ness.
Morality in our world is not about how bad death is. We do not not kill one another because death is bad.
It’s so that we do not presume to change the time, that we do not bring disorder to the soul that is before us. An unborn child’s soul is in a state of formation. To interfere with that formation disorders the soul. And when it is sent back to join the rest of the universe, it is disordered, disjointed, disturbed.
Like a soufflé that has been taken out of the oven too soon, an unformed soul goes into the universe in a not-right state.
We are, literally, putting our universe into a disordered state by not respecting the relationship of God, time, and our souls.
Time is an essential part of birth. Time is an essential part of development. Time is an essential part of death.
It is the element that tells death when to come to life.
What is most interesting about the process of healing, I have found, is that it is essentially a wormhole: you go in, but you don’t know where you will come out.
You can heal back into life. And you can heal into death.
Everyone knows stories of those people who have died from a seemingly minor ailment. And others who have survived circumstances that allowed no hope of continued life.
Death has its own energy. It has its own purpose. It has its own life here on Earth.
I think the more we open ourselves to seeing the life of death, the more able we will become in meditating on death and coming to an understanding with it. This may give us ways to change its presence and form in us.
It may give us an easier way to continue down the path of life into the life of death.