Sunday, December 12, 2010

what we learn from remembering one dead

Perhaps there is only worldly equality in death. - Isn’t it so? Once we have passed on, the distinctions that place one above another fade away into eternity and we are all equal at last. Walk amongst the gravestones and look at how each is given their own plot, no one bigger than the other. You may notice that one has a larger headstone or is perhaps placed near a tree or on a hill, but these only serve as mockeries because they illuminate the meaningless of worldly distinction. It is in the graveyard that one is able to see the true equality of humankind; one is able to see that in spirit, we are all equal before God. How foolish we are to place such weight on how we are perceived in the world! What are all the riches and statuses one gains in the world but larger headstones on the graves of those dead and gone? And what is poverty if we are all in the end buried six feet beneath the earth, no one different from the other?

Perhaps we can only love unselfishly in regards to remembering one who is dead. - How do you remember one who is dead? In that relationship, one must love unselfishly because you love without any hope of return. You are not loving their physical self, but their psychical self; their spirit. There is no physical self to distract one from loving unconditionally and unselfishly. How freeing it is! No conditions are placed on the love because it is given from one freely without any expectation of return. If you have forgotten the dead or ceased in loving them, it is not that they changed or became more selfish, as is often the case in worldly relationships; no, there is no changing when one is dead – only you have changed! There are no excuses here. You are held accountable for your love as it must be given freely and unselfishly. The dead demand nothing of you, yet we are to love them as our neighbor. Simply because they are dead does not mean they have ceased to exist. This sickness is not unto death, Jesus tells us (John 11:4), instead in death we have life. The physical may have passed away, but the psychical still remains. Do not forget that our task is to love the eternal in man, which is precisely that which does not pass in death. If you have forgotten one who is dead, only you are responsible, not he, for he demands nothing of you. How easy it is to cease loving when we feel we are not demanded to do so, yet this is precisely the problem. Love should flow naturally from a pure heart, given from God who himself is love. The task is to be written on one’s heart (I cannot find the verse at the moment – sorry! Jesus says it.. somewhere..) in such a way that one loves without expectation of reward, because no worldly reward compares to the reward of eternity. This one can learn from remembering one who is dead.

So, how does this affect our relationships with the living? If our task is to love our neighbor as ourselves, all men, without distinction, even in their sin and imperfection; it follows that we are to love equally and unselfishly. This we can learn from remembering one who has passed. Worldly distinctions serve as barriers to us loving one another in truth, but when the love is given freely and unselfishly, there are no barriers because the worldly is not what is being loved: one is loving the eternal in man, his spirit. I am simply reiterating here what I said in my previous entry and thus I will not talk at length about it, but I feel it is a very important issue and is one that I struggle with very often. I think that a lesson is to be learned from loving one who has passed on. May God provide us with the patience, courage and strength to love our neighbor with unselfishness and without worldly distinctions; may He calm our impatience and make us quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19) so that we are able to love one another deeply and in truth.

therefore, if you will test whether or not you love faithfully, note sometime how you relate yourself to one who is dead. ­-Kierkegaard in Works of Love

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