This morning I was reading Benson’s final essay, Life, in his book Joyous Gard and for some reason was drawn to pick up another book in my library – one that I’d read many years ago: The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas. I immediately turned to a chapter called The Long Habit where Thomas talks of death.
It seems to me that he was saying we fear death primarily because we’ve grown so accustomed to the long habit of living — that the uncertainly of death and what actually happens to us when life cases naturally leaves us unsettled and fearful.
Listen now to what Benson says of death:
¦we must not settle too close to the sweet and kindly earth, but be ready to unfurl our wings for the passage over sea; and to what new country of God, what unknown troops and societies of human spirits, what gracious reality of dwelling-place, of which our beloved fields and woods and streams are nothing but the gentle and sweet symbols, our flight may bear us, I cannot tell; but that we are all in the mind of God, and that we cannot wander beyond the reach of His hand or the love of His heart, of this I am more sure than I am of anything else in this world where familiarity and mystery are so strangely entwined.
Tell me, friend: of the two opinions on death, which makes you want to live the more?
Days 1-4 Guide
Begin this month with zest. Consider your life to be the start of an everlasting joy, one that yet survives death. Take care to use your time wisely, and enjoy the pleasures and the beauty of this world. Fear not the cessation of life, but fear instead never starting to live at all. Happy 4th.
© 2005, Levi Hill