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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Spirituality: “Life Bounded by Death” from Christian Life Patterns

Human life is bounded by death. To be appreciated fully at any point in its course, life must be apprehended as a whole. Human life, then, must find its deepest meaning in its relation to death. But death seems to stand as a stubborn impediment to meaning. It destroys plans, it undercuts purpose, it breaks the bonds of love. Humankind has struggled to discern a meaning in life that can prevail against the power of death. In this struggle Christians have been among the most audacious. For we claim the hope of the resurrection. This hope does not void death; death always precedes resurrection. For many of us it does not lessen death’s difficulty or lighten its pain. But it rescues death from absurdity.

Jesus Christ stands as the enduring witness to the promise of life through death. The religious conviction that arises from this promise finds resonance in the experience of loss and change in adult life. Growth does not come easily nor by simple addition. At each important junction in our life there is the threat of loss, the fear of what lies ahead, the temptation to hold on to what we already possess, and the resistance to standing open to the possibility of change and the ambiguity of a future that we do not control. Yet it has been through such experiences of confusion and loss that we have moved toward growth and fulfillment. It has been in letting go of the evanescent security of life under our own control that we have received the gifts of love and the true accomplishments that have enriched our life.

Hidden in the dynamic of adult growth is a confirmation of Christianity’s deepest paradox. I must be willing to lose all in order to find myself. It is in letting go of life that I discover it. And in dying, we believe, we shall find life.

Evelyn Eaton Whitehead and James D. Whitehead

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