Flights of Faith

Friday, August 25, 2006

Navigating Fear: Death or the Fragility of Life

“Do not be afraid” Mark 6:50

I’m not there yet. Not even a little bit. I would love to live fearlessly. To fly, drive, and walk through campus with a lion’s heart but something is holding me back.

Or should I say it was. Fear’s complicated.

Back during winter break ‘05/06, I began living more freely. Taking risks with life. I explored glaciers in helicopters, almost became rock putty cruising rapids, rode tiny planes in the hopes of expanding my viewpoint. In the process, I found a form of courage. For someone whose college essay was about grasping for life while in a near death experience, I was certainly throwing it back into the wind. The reason: I was ready to die. I still am. To shorten a story I hope to be much more someday, I was dead in high school; revived in college (apologies to parents and church family who kept me on life support). Even with that short one and a half years of college, I had enough. I’d been blessed. Granted, I should have been ready a long time ago. If a Christian isn’t ready to die…I’m not sure about his or her title. Of course, my perspective will change with a wife, kids, and possibly my job (only if it’s serving others). Moderation.

For now, I know my death would be part of a bigger plan. It’s a big reason I was comfortable clicking “order tickets” for my summer adventure in Israel. I had lived. And I hoped to continue living if that was God’s will. But if not, I had to realize it’s an ordered movement with a lot more at stake than my flesh.

Stepping into the huge classroom, I realized I would have to go to the balcony to find seats. I had no interest in signing up for the class.

Death.
Philosophy 176.
Kagan.

I simply expected a “bottle fame, brew glory” type of lecture. One of those amazing lectures straight from a movie. Then, it started. Kagan began with a series of warnings. Heavy reading (been there, done that), Grades (B means good not the course title; but is he an undergrad in ’06?), sections (not another hour of intellectual snobbery!), and a mandatory denial of the afterlife.

What?

Studying death without being allowed to use any notions of what happens after it?
I’m not even sure how one can even begin to do this much less propose it seriously.
We live in a country where almost all funerals are religious, most Christian, regardless of the deceased’s religious dedication. Their family needs comfort. A hope that there’s something more. A wish that death isn’t some final tick on our biological clock but an alarm to start our real journeys.

I stayed for the rest of the lecture.
Disappointed.
Then, reflective.

If I lived in Kagan’s world, I don’t know how I would live life. Would I take chances? Not sure. Would I have gone to Israel? Probably not.
I would be terrified of my life turning into a blank screen.
I would cling to life.
But life would just be my continued heartbeat.

I can’t live that way. I don’t live that way. Life is more than that.
Death certainly means more.
We have to embrace that truth.
Once we’re comfortable with our inevitable ends, we can finally concentrate on every day’s beginning.

"After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." Albus Dumbledore

Coming Soon: But we fear more than death.

1 Comments:

Anonymous jason said...

I liked this entry a lot. Good questions - and something that I always wonder when pondering the blankness that is life without a telos.

8:19 PM  

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