Life, death, ashes, dust, spirit

“At one point I had to explain how I differed on a certain point from both Catholics and Fundamentalists: I hope I shall not for this forfeit the goodwill or the prayers of either. Nor do I much fear it.”

C.S. Lewis in Reflections on the Psalms

Life after death is one of those matters that many Christians would argue is central to their faith. As for me, I think it depends on how we define ‘life’. Since my Dad died five years ago Mom says she has become even more convinced that she and Dad will be reunited when death takes her. They may well be, in some way that I can only try to imagine. I’m just not sure it will seem any different than it does now. I am reunited with Dad whenever I visit the birch tree Mom planted in his memory in the backyard.

Craig’s accident and death, and the ensuing process of grieving, have me thinking about what’s next when I, or any of us, go.

Whatever happened after the execution of Jesus, and I do not believe resurrection has to mean physical resuscitation, one thing is certain. His spirit, a manifestation of the Divine or a legacy that has inspired centuries of followers, lives on. In other words, Jesus did not have to “rise again” physically, nor do I have to believe that he did, for me to try to be a follower. This is one of the specific matters of the faith – and there obviously are others! – where, to line myself up with Lewis’ sentiments which I quoted, I part company with fundamentalist Christians. The “salvation” I endeavour to experience is from my self (or myself). That ought to be a universal goal, whether Christian or not, indeed whether a theist or non-theist.

Craig lives on in so many ways – in the stories of his life I had not heard before his memorial service, in the memorial fund in his name at the United Theological College, in the rich memories – some nearly fifty-two years old – we family and friends can share.

Whether or not Craig and I are reunited in a spiritual realm after I die, there is nothing stopping us from keeping him alive here and now. Craig tried to emulate the love of Jesus, a Jew who shook up the religious establishment (especially the hypocrisy and orthodoxy), while he was with us physically. We honour Craig, who – hard to believe – died one month ago tomorrow (June 9), by trying to follow his example as long as we live.

Referring back to Lewis, “I hope I shall not (with these few thoughts) forfeit the goodwill or the prayers” (of anyone).

Nor, like Lewis, do I much fear it.

(Thanks to Karen for leading me to these deliberations!)

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