nature is a laid trap

I can never go to a wedding without imagining myself getting married; I can never go to a funeral and not imagine myself in the casket. I suppose no contemplative person can.

This past weekend, my friend Luke’s dad died. At the funeral in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, I watched person after person stand and talk about him. They praised his love for his wife and kids, his giving heart, his concern for the people around him. Each of them summed up in a few words, as best they could, their experience of that good man.

Annie Dillard wrote, “We live on mined land. Nature itself is a laid trap. No one makes it through; no one gets out.” Martin Heidegger wrote many cryptic pages saying, among other things, that the only way to live authentically is to accept, not only the possibility, but also the inevitability, of our own death.

As I sat there listening to people at the funeral, it occurred to me a that this is the earthly end of every story. Of my story. “No one makes it through.” One way or another, we all end up in a box. How often do I really think about it? Almost never.

Earlier in the same book, Dillard quotes the Mahabharata saying, “Of the world’s wonders, which is the most wonderful? That no man, though he sees others dying all around him, believes that he himself will die.”

Paul wrote, “Let each one take care how he builds,” and “each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Paul—in fact, every poet and prophet in the Bible—and Jesus himself are telling me that I am accountable for how I spend every minute of my life. And my life, like yours and that of every one we know, is almost over.

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