Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:12-13
I have known very few pure spirits in my lifetime, but Melanie was one of them.
- (This post is longer than usual, but the subject is really important)
Once in a while, we lose someone – either in the family or the community – who brings the concept of death, well, to life. This time it was a young woman in our church, just 43 at her passing, who was a study in faith, grace, and faithful witness to God’s amazing love.
In the abstract, death is simply a word used to label a state of being when a body can no longer sustain life. But the concept only relates to the physical – death fails to account for personhood and who we are as spiritual beings.
In a sense, an obituary should read, “Joe Doe’s physical body gave out January 20, it was 80-years-old. Joe’s body no longer sustains him, it is dead. Joe as a soul, the person that evolved in the context of that body, has transitioned beyond the scope of our senses. We’re going to miss him for sure, but it’s Joe’s body that died, not Joe.”
What Constitutes a Person?
During a lifetime, regardless as to how long that journey is in years and months, we have varied experiences, we develop relationships, we acquire volumes of information, we’re exposed to a host of ideas, we learn language, we communicate, we hone skills, we love, we raise families, we work, we laugh, we play, we cry, we sleep, we eat, we deal with challenges, we are trained to make judgments, we become change agents in countless ways, we make a thousand small choices each day.
All of this, all the accumulated living, and the processing of thoughts, the reflection and the self-awareness, all this mish-mash of personality and choice and interaction, this is who we are and it doesn’t evaporate into thin air the moment our heart stops beating and our brain activity shuts down.
This self – this gaggle of consciousness, and personality, and soul, and a relationship to the eternal that is not dependent on religious dogma but the will of God – may have found its identity and purpose during its sojourn on earth, but both its beginnings and its full potential are rooted in the foundational certainty we understand as light and life from everlasting to everlasting. God is our eternal home, and eternity is where we will know one another with a completeness heretofore unimagined.
Our Friend Melanie’s Passing:
All that, and then someone dies/transitions/passes, as happened in our community this week, and the cumulative evidence of their life and their faith (Melanie’s life and faith) proves beyond any doubt the fact that we are so much more than the limitations imposed by flesh and blood.
Our friend Melanie’s life was a beautiful and eloquent witness to light and to love. I have known very few pure spirits in my lifetime, but she was one of them. So many other people have drawn strength from the integrity and the authenticity of her walk with God, and none of that passed away with her when her body gave out Wednesday evening and her earthly journey was over.
I am convinced that – paradoxically – it is mortality that makes me so sure of immortality. What little I have experienced of the end of life has shown me clearly that life never ends. I know so much of fullness and grace and love and light and promise that life in itself is not enough to explain it! Every time I experience the end of an earthly journey it is plainly obvious that the moment of transition is simply the beginning of another.
What we call death is, to me, kind of a long deep breath. The final gasp in the body we cling to so desperately becomes the first breath in the next chapter. As I have said before, a semi-colon, not a period,
No, I do not know what life beyond this life is going to look like, but the beauty of the life my friend Melanie lived was I believe a glimpse into the peace, the goodness, and the light we will know there.
That’s the thing about my experience of faith. I believe the kind of life Jesus invites us to experience in Him is a glimpse, a foretaste, a muted evidence of the exceptional, vibrant, creative, vivid, uncompromised existence we have been designed for since before the dawn of time.
That is our opportunity as followers of the Way, the opportunity to sample a foretaste, and to share that glimpse of beauty with the world.
In love, and because of love – DEREK