Monday 25 January 2021

My epitaph?

Of course, it may well be that Christian burials, epitaphs and the like will be gone in the near future; but, given the choice, mine would be:


In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.


This quote comes from the tale of Aragorn and Arwen, in the Appendices of Lord of the Rings. Coming from an era placed before Jesus, the hope beyond the circles of the world is much less specific than what Christians know as resurrected eternal life in Heaven. 

What these lovely and deep words do, is to balance the fact of sorrow against the hope of better. The one does not negate the other, but both are facts. 

An earlier sentence from Aragorn makes this clear: "I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world."

The pain of death has no comfort within the circles of the world. Properly understood; the fact of death and its related phenomena of change and loss, pain and disease, degeneration and dying - are unavoidable realities in this world. And if we are bound within the circles of this world, there is no comfort for them - they define the nature of this world in an ultimate sense. 

But... There is comfort beyond the circles of this world, there is a reason for death in that larger context. So we do not despair. 

We are not bound to this world! - but may choose to leave it. 

And there we will find the peace that this-world cannot give; there (and only there) we will find and know the reason for death. 

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