"Strangely, virtually every death, even of the very old, feels like an intrusion and more or less surprises us. Tears and lament give witness to our basic sense that this is wrong and that we don't like it one bit. Death provides the fundamental datum that something isn't working the way it was intended, accompanied by the feeling that we have every right to expect something other and better." (Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: a Conversation in Spiritual Theology)
My father-in-law passed away Wednesday night. The last 24 hours have been a jumble of motion and emotion as we scrambled to find remotely affordable airline tickets, send out emails, call family, and pack.
My wife kept saying over and over, "I can't believe he's gone." I remember saying the same thing after my own Father passed away. For months I knew that this day might come but it still surprised me. Death is so unnatural. It's as if we somehow know instinctively that this is not supposed to happen.
Death confused me as a child. I didn't grow up in a religious home so we never really talked much about the possibility of life after death. I was relieved when I attended vacation bible school with some kids in the neighborhood and learned about the concept of Heaven. That made sense to me. Death did not. It still doesn't.
I don't think its supposed to make sense. But what does resonate with me is this intuitive sense that "we have every right to expect something other and better" as Peterson describes it.
That gut feeling that "somethin' ain't right" makes no sense if the world consists only of matter in motion. It's like we know deep down inside that something is broken both in us and in world. Our souls cry out for a redeemer even if our hearts and minds will not.