“Then one day you find,
ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run,
you missed the starting gun.”
— Pink Floyd, Time
OLD AGE is a benefit in that a whole life may be seen for what it has been. But the disadvantage is people on their deathbeds so often rue a life they feel was wasted, or, worse, was a source of harm for others. Why is it that at the end of life we see what we should have seen so clearly all along? It’s because our death encircles and suddenly we are poised to surrender to it. There is no more benefit in ignoring the inevitable. The inevitable comes, and it stalks, taking no prisoners.
We stand or sit or lay down in this day – our very moment – and we are beset by many forces that hold us in the place we are in. But at any given moment we may challenge one or more of these forces; some of these forces we will not what to challenge, but some we are fools not to.
We want to challenge those forces for addiction and habitual patterns we find it hard to escape from. We have great reason to overturn the control these have over us – we don’t wish to hold above our heads and over our shoulders that regret to be faced in those final days.
Then, what about the sudden death? No opportunity for regret is available. The next thing we may know is the fact of Judgment, as we are whisked away to face God in some ethereal way.
This is your life. This is my life. We live in this time because God ordained for us to live and to make our mark on humanity and life in this here-and-now.
Without creating an unnecessary urgency, this day beckons, because death and the afterlife both beckon – and let’s not miss this, they beckon in their immediacy eternally. None of us can defeat physical death like Jesus did, but we can take seriously the promise of the end of the physical life, and, with it, make the most of it we can.
This is your life. This is my life. But when life takes on a post-mortem perspective we begin to understand how truly important our deeds in the body are. From the day of our death we may visit, take a look back, and decide where our lives are heading now.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.