Of Dreams, Death, Resurrection, and the Tower of Babel…


A few weeks ago, I again watched the movie “Meet Joe Black.” The central character, or central human character, is Bill, an uber-wealthy man about to celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday. However, Bill has been experiencing intermittent chest pains, and begins to hear an audible, whispered voice saying, “Yes…” Despite all his wealth, intelligence, and good will from the people who love him; Bill comes face to face with the inevitability of his own death:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae-mN5aD8Qg&feature=plcp

Death becomes a person: Joe Black. The rest of the movie shows a man trying to deal with death walking beside him in his everyday life. At first, it is really awkward, introducing this new “friend” to work associates and family. As part of the deal Bill makes with death which will buy him more time with his family, Bill must allow Joe to go with him everywhere. Essentially, Joe calls the shots! Bill knows if he doesn’t play the game right, he is done. However, eventually, death begins to pay particularly close attention to Bill’s beloved daughter, and Bill stands up in protection of her. Throughout the movie, you see Bill having such normal reactions to the death that walks beside him.

He denies…

He bargains…

He fights…

and finally… He not only is resigned to the ongoing presence of death, he seems to even embrace it. Bill begins to see his life differently while death walks beside him, and tries to make things right with the people, dreams, and legacy to which he had given his life. He spent his life building something, and began to see how quickly it could be taken away. And yet…

Bill’s experience of walking with death by his side, brings him to the place of gratitude for all of his life:

I am reminded of Jesus’ words of invitation to “…take up your cross daily and follow me.”

Our tendency as a species seems to be to build towers that we believe will take us to God. The tower can be experience, money, power, pleasure, morality, or even… or maybe especially… theological/religious ones. We begin to build, and even invite others to build with us, but eventually, we each become so focused, so obsessed, in a glassy-eyed, tunnel-vision dream-like state; upon only our piece of the tower. We stop listening to each other. We become deaf to the call of community, due to the clarion call of our personal obsession.

…and the tower goes unfinished…

It is God’s grace to send the whisper of death into our deafness. We must learn to embrace death in order for Resurrection to supplant it. For there is no resurrection without death…

Death of our dreams…

Death of our expectations…

Death of our obsessive need to be right…

Death of our illusion of control…

But the cross is the gateway to new life! What we thought we wanted is replaced with something better, richer, deeper, eternal. The way to embrace our death, and to receive new life, is the way of Trust in the God of the Resurrection. Trust changes the grief of death to the gratitude for a life without end, from which  love is the by-product.

Courageous love…

Servant love…

Encouraging love…

Listening love…

Embracing love…

Tenacious love…

Sustaining love…

Patient love…

Healing love…

Giving love…

Forgiving love…

Christ’s love…

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