Some things I just don’t get. I’m one of those persons who tends to think a little slower than the general population. Considering how much we all have to put up with-heartache, pain, sickness, betrayal, loneliness, depression, greed, graft, war, destruction and the eventual deaths of our loved ones and ourselves-I’m confused as to why a belief in a better life, an afterlife, or the life hereafter would be offensive to some people.
I like to think in principle or in essence about stuff-for instance, who wouldn’t endure the inescapable and deliberate death design of the caterpillar, knowing that the soaring beauty and freedom of being a butterfly will follow? Isn’t it profound? The caterpillar and the butterfly are the same stuff and live in the same world with the same life force but with a totally different experience and quality of life?
I could go on and on about caterpillars, cocoons, butterflies and the long-gone summer days of my youth, filled with 16-inch (Clincher! Barehanded, no gloves) softball, off-the-wall; four-square tackle football on concrete streets; basketball off the telephone pole in the alley-ya know, summertime in the ‘hood, Chicago style. Simply stated, the magnificent metamorphosis of the butterfly provides us with a familiar context to approach and think seriously about life and death as we worry about our cellphones getting cut off or our cars running out of gas in unknown places.
Life and Death? I’m talking about Easter, Resurrection Day. A day celebrated around the globe. Even where Easter isn’t celebrated, it is near impossible to escape its ubiquity. It truly is the ultimate death-and-life story.
Why is it the narrative without peer? The Easter story presents a reality with which we are all familiar and that we accept without reservation: Death. It also presents us with something we treat quite incredulously and with much reservation: Resurrection.
Now I know many of the Christians reading this column might contend that the above statement doesn’t apply to them, but what a person acknowledges and what a person believes are sometimes worlds apart. What you acknowledge can easily roll off your tongue. What you believe bleeds through your actions.
There is always conversation about not offending others with our religion/spiritual beliefs/ideology/philosophy. Somebody please tell, when did we become so intolerant, inflexible and intellectually limited that we cannot suffer or entertain the competition of thought?
Where I want to push you, the reader, however, is toward a thought process that is brutally honest. If we are going to live life seriously, we must allow ourselves to think critically.
Do the dead really rise? Is there something beyond “us”? Did a man named Jesus truly trump death? Stay with me now-let’s push this. Do we really want there to be a resurrection? Do we really want to live forever? Our urge/desire to live forever is readily apparent. If not, then why all the exercise, good nutrition, medical schools and plastic surgeries? Why all of the camcorders, DVDs, albums and works of art? Why children and legacies?
You feel me?
We struggle, compete, steal and even kill for resources that another block, neighborhood, school, ward, state, nation or people possess in case they don’t want to share. The “life urge” is so powerful we will even accept that which we know is the lesser and try to transform it into what we think we actually deserve. That is the nature of life, to infuse everything it touches with unlimited and unbridled possibilities.
How many of us are still living “caterpillar” lives? Even if you lack the knowledge and/or are afraid to become the “butterfly” God created you to be, know that your ignorance/fear is no waiver or excuse. You are obligated to always become more that what you are right now. Life demands it.
You see, the Easter story is truly about life. It is truly about unlimited and unbridled possibilities. It’s not escapism. If it were, then jet planes, lightbulbs and cellphones that take pictures would be nothing but the mythologies of the fanciful and the foolish. I confess, I need the Jesus story. It gives me the strength to “press on” when I feel like all my pressin’ on is gone.
Death is not the great challenge of the tomb or life. Living is.