The Ponder Effect | An Easter Meditation: How much power am I giving death?
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An Easter Meditation:
How much power am I giving death?

When the quarantine first began, we were in Florida. The weather was exquisite, and we were out biking, walking and swimming. Despite the sunshine, I began to notice signs of death. There was an armadillo on the roadside, bloodied and bloated. The next day it was a racoon, lying peacefully on its side, its eyes open, its heart still. Then a soft bird. Then a fish lapped up on the shore. Tuning into the possibility of death, I found it all around me. There it has stayed. Death is knocking at our doors, and we’ve put on masks and gloves and stayed inside to keep it at bay. It is seeping in through the news, where the death count is a running ticker. It burrows into conversations unbidden.

Like this one:

On my way to the grocery last week I stopped to talk to Demetrius, an older man who sells The Contributor paper at the corner of Woodmont Blvd and Hillsboro Rd here in Nashville. I got out of my car, and we chatted six-feet away for a while–about the loss of work, about the tornado, about the virus. Everything we said circled like a vulture around the topic of death until Demetrius stated quite simply, “I don’t care how I die. I care how I live.” Wise words from a good man who lost his one prize T-bone in the storms that ravaged our city and then lost his night job to layoffs and has now lost his customers, who can’t get near him to pay the $2 for the paper he sells. A good man who has lost a lot but not his sense of purpose or his hope.

Driving away, his words prompted me to consider: Am I spending more time caring about how I die than caring about how I live? Am I giving death more power than it deserves? Did I not study John Donne’s poetry in high school, close-reading his holy sonnet in which he boldly denounces death: denying its pride, denying its might, denying its very existence.

This quarantine is our noble effort to stop death–or more accurately, postpone it. The way we have stopped our lives for death could be viewed as giving pride to death, showcasing its might. But I don’t think so. It is, rather, giving pride to life. Our collective endeavor to shelter at home shines light on a fact so glaringly obvious we hardly stop to consider it. How glorious that all over this planet people love life so much that they will drop everything to protect it–not only for themselves but for others. Life is that worthy, that awesome.

And if life is so awesome, what makes us think death will not also offer its own awe-someness? As Paul writes to the Romans, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Death is the end, but haven’t we learned over and over from creation that the end is never the end? Look outside.

Last month, barren. Today, teeming with life.

It would have seemed impossible–that the green, the growth, the blossoms, the creatures, the birdcalls would come back after the long gray emptiness–if you hadn’t already experienced the cycle of the seasons. If you hadn’t already witnessed life after death in the form of spring, you would think all was lost in winter. But it’s not. It never is.

Which brings us to Easter. Hail the festival day! The day that are hallowed forever. The day whereon Christ arose, breaking the kingdom of death. Every year on Easter morning, I go to church and join a chorus of hundreds of voices singing this hymn in jubilation, glorifying the day that death loses its power. Today, I did not go to church. Nor did you. We are home in quarantine, doing our part to help stem the tide of death. Its kingdom, though? That has already been broken.

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5 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    April 12, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you for these beautiful words; I’m cherishing them and the light that they bring tonight.

  • Anonymous

    April 12, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    Beautifully said! Thank you for such a thoughtful Easter tribute.

  • Anonymous

    April 12, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    This is a truly remarkable piece! Such a terrific expression of thoughts many of us share. Occasionally I catch myself with great worry. It is then I realize I’ve taken my eyes off the Lord and the path looks scary. I realize I have been chosen to choose my path and With thanksgiving, I choose the Lords. Happy Easter everyone!

  • Anonymous

    April 13, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    What a great read… thanks for taking the time to give us something to think about.

  • Anonymous

    April 18, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    That is so beautifully written.
    I am not sure anything can be added to those words. I can only add where I am at the moment in this conversation of death.
    During this time of self quarantine I have spent time reading spiritual posts, praying and thinking about what’s important. This may sound shocking but sometimes I wonder if I agree with the measures we have taken to deal with this virus. We have wrecked the lives of so many through loss of jobs, loss of businesses, loss of schooling, loss of future. All mostly to save lives of people like me, older people, who have already gotten to live pretty long. I hope that doesn’t sound callous. I grieve that we have lost any lives, much less so many. I am thinking of it more as “at what price?”. Life and death in balance, or unbalanced. In my time to think and reflect I have come to a deeper consciousness that God controls my life and my death, and I have a stronger belief that death is another transition. Don’t get me wrong I love my life. I have been abundantly blessed. I love my loved ones beyond words. I would like to stay here with them for years and years. I know I can’t have that. So I try to appreciate today, even as odd as it is. I continue to try to read, learn, reflect and meditate so that when death comes it will not come with power. I will be willing, if not eager, to let go, and to go with peace, curiosity and faith that there is a continuation, a new spring unfolding in beauty.