The Long View of Life and Death



The ground shakes and a thousand deaths mark the violence.  It has been so since the beginning.  Now, we take each tremor as the first, not marking the long history of Earth, or the longer history of exploding stars.   Floods, bombs, plagues, wars, cycle in history.  And finally the burning questions, and wonder at the vast solemn array of nature’s austere visitations.  I think in this the crucible of pain and time is laid mysterious compassionate lessons of life and death.  

We have always been free to die and free to live, and die we have down the ages by the thousands and millions–but not alone, rather in waves of life and death.  We die at home and in far places, in good company and bad; we have died well and poorly.  Our deaths and lives are personal and cosmic; it is our way.

We live beneath a canopy of life and death.  Our sky is adorned with ancient records; luminous ghosts that ceased shining long before humans peopled Earth.  We may wonder what civilizations rose and fell around those lost points of light.  Yet, life being one, it is our sky, our record, and our life.  And I see that no point is lost, for every point of seeming loss is ours, is beginning also, and every bloom of new life is ours. 

Life, near and far touches us, rouses to action, and death rouses to action.  The old dark holds of tears and death have been ours, and will be ours yet with more open eyes.  Tomorrow’s life and light are also ours, and close upon us today.  Looking up, all the lost points are gathered in wondrous constellations; future patterns warm with promise, laid out beyond the beauty of today’s best dreams.

Are we then from the night only, from the dark womb of earth, of time, of tears and pain?  I say we are as well from bright beginnings and unspeakable joy.   History shows and will show dark, yet further back still, back through creation to the first bright blooms of universes, we were infinite then as now.


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