Winter’s Rest

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Winter is definitely on its way. It’s the time when the uneducated eye might believe that life has ceased. When I look out my window into the woods, I see the trees have dropped their leaves, the bright wildflowers have withered away. Yet under that icy blanket of snow I know that life still thrives. In due time, the snow will melt away, the sun will come out, and new life will seemingly explode into being. With thoughts of winter comes a time when I ponder life after death. How is it we can live forever with God, if we can see human bodies without life? What has become of their life forces? Just what is death and how can it not be forever?

A book I just read has a passage that brought some of these questions into focus for me. “My daddy’s plane exploded and now he’s flying in another plane to a faraway planet” explained the small girl. She was notably upset when a practical adult tried to explain how that was impossible. But that was Maggie’s way of understanding that her father’s death was only his earthly body, that he still lived in another place, in another plane, beyond our world. Like with Maggie, I may get the details wrong, but the human sense of an afterlife seems to be hardwired into us. I’m just as sure as Maggie that life continues. I can’t always put it into words how I feel, yet it doesn’t make it any less real. I know there is something beyond the grave. God has said it is so, and my faith confirms it.

Perhaps it is this concept of death that Jesus is speaking of to his disciples and to us in today’s Gospel. The end of our earthly bodies will not be the end of us. Death isn’t just the final end of existence. God doesn’t let go of our souls once we give them over to our heavenly father. “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.” When faced with my own mortality, my limited time here on earth, it strengthens me to recall that God will not let me disintegrate into nothingness. I will continue to live, although I will be separated from this familiar body. My soul will continue to exist and eventually – on that last glorious day – I will be raised up again. Like the woods in winter, life will be only resting, preparing for the new display to come.

Linda Crowley