Living in the shadow of death…

I heard someone discussing health care today- the usual discussion about self inflicted health problems, such as those associated with smoking or obesity.

Discussions like this usually make me feel uncomfortable- many of us think that we ought to be healthier- take more exercise, loose some weight. It has been a guilt on me for most of my life.

But that is not the point of this post.

Because the counter argument that was made really made me think. It went something like this-

What is this obsession with making life longer– as if this were the main reason for life itself? Why should every thing that we do be governed by the fear of death?

Why do we measure life quantity so rigourously- in terms of years, months, days and hours (as well as the cost of maintenance through health care?)

Whilst at the same time we have lost sight of any reliable qualitative measure of life- despite all the lifestyle choices that we are bombarded with- the holidays, the houses, the constructed leisure experiences, the pressure to consume ever more produce that fills life with all things shiny and new…

What makes for a ‘good’ life?

I suppose for many of my friends, this might include varied experience, travel, relationships, family, economic security, fulfilment. All of these things are good.

But is this it? We live as long as we can, and if we are lucky we might have some laughter, some love and consume a fair bit?

No. Something in me rebels against the hollowness- the shallowness– of this kind of life.

As was the writer of Ecclesiastes-

13 I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.15 What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.

(Chapter 1)

But there is more.

There is life that is not lived as an avoidance of the inevitable, with added entertainment.

It is a way of life that seeks human connection, human service, and the life of the Spirit of God within us. The way of Jesus.

This kind of life is not easy and clean or overly concerned with safety or security. It is more likely to be messy, unpredictable and even downright dangerous.

But this is the kind of life I long for. Because the alternative seems like no life at all.

Michaela’s step father Robert died recently- the shadow of death fell across us, and we still live with the grief and loss. But life is such a precious, wondrous, joyous thing. Let us not waste it in the pursuit of quantity.

Life still flickers

I have heard it said that

Dead men walking

We are



Like veal

Blown by flies

But life still flickers

Faint but strong

Vibrating these hollow veins

And the voltage you make

Is a current

Wired to the nape

Of my neck

Because this thing we are

Is more than just

A bottle

For blood

So much more than just


Mixed from mud

Beautiful creature

Sing spirit-


6 thoughts on “Living in the shadow of death…

  1. Evening big boy! I see your photographic career is nearly over. Thses shots are so good I could have taken them!

    Seriously tho’ this is really good news and needs to be trumpeted. You are bringing good news that contrasts with the “collapse of the Clyde eco-system” story that is going around just now. You do want to be the bringer of good news don’t you?

  2. My IT skills are as excellent as ever so my comments have appeared against the next days post. On such mistakes do beautiful friendships founder. Thankfully we are held together by deeper things, like a mutual fear disapproval by our wives.

    Simon R

  3. Just heard on the radio this morning, there is a survey of life in the Clyde going on just now. Mainly talking about mussell beds and things like that-don’t think you qualify, Chris.!!!!!!!!

  4. By the way-responding to simon’s mistake of putting his comment here!! Thought would make less sense if I didn’t do it too!!!

  5. Pingback: The good death… « this fragile tent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.