It is early morning on Good Friday, and I can feel the weight, the heaviness, of this day. Already I am entering into a sort of death as I accompany Jesus in my heart. It is death we most fear and hate; either that, or we dance with death in a macabre, almost diabolic romance. But death is a transition. If our lives mean anything at all, then our death will mean that much more.
Death is surrender. Throughout life we enjoy activity, fruitfulness. The journey toward eternity is not usually filled with passive resignation, not until we approach death, that is.
I think we would fear death less if we remembered the Victor who conquered its sting – Jesus. That’s what Good Friday means to me. It is the place where sorrow intersects with jubilant hope – transition. We move in that holy tension, in that waiting for the promise to be fulfilled.
Everyone, whether religious or not, wants to believe in resurrection, in new life. But we cannot arrive there without first meeting and embracing death.
This means I have to give up my life, to hand it over. To whom? To God. It is a bold act of trust, but a necessary one. Even in my darkest hour – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” – I can make this decision, because I rely on hope, not the pangs and pains of death. Therefore, neither life nor death is to be feared.
At some point, we all approach the crossroads where life and death meet. This is where the real treasure is to be found. Can we believe that our death be as beautiful as our life? It is possible to die with beauty abounding, even if it is an ugly, messy death. Beauty and ugliness, like life and death, come together if we allow them to teach us how to live and how to die.
I’d like to think that the culmination of my life is really just handing over fruitfulness to passivity. The humility of letting myself be at God’s disposal is both an act of living and dying, if I learn to do it now. In the end, I find it’s only the beginning – and that gives me hope.