October 27th, 2014

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An odd moment in time

Last night I heard that the older brother of a friend from high school had died. He was in his early 50s. We had not spoken in many years, alas. We drift on the currents of time, losing old friends, making new ones, carried along whether we will or nill.

I am, of course, grieved for the loss and for the loss sustained by my old friend and his family. But there is more. I have had relatives, friends and acquaintances in my age cohort, die before. Some violently. Some in accidents. Some by diseases such as cancer. But there is something about this that seems a more threatening marker of age and mortality.

Yes, therefore the days we have are precious. "Let him remember that the days of his life are not many, but God answers him with the joy in his heart." Ecl 5:19. We are but a broken shard, a whithered stalk of grass, a fading flower, a passing shadow, a wayward cloud, a wandering breeze, scattering dust, a fleeting dream. Yet even while these thoughts may help us appreciate the gifts God gives us, they likewise frighten us in the agony of future loss. What a brave thing it is to love, to live in the world.

Or perhaps not, given the alternative. "If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, but his sould was not content from the good [he received], and he has no one who will bury him, I say: 'the stillborn is better than he.'" Ecl. 6:3. We can wall ourselves off from the world to spare ourselves pain and loss, but in doing so we would cut ourselves off from that which makes life worthwhile.

It is dark now. I will be glad to see the Sun when it rises. Sometimes, that is enough. "The light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the Sun."