In one way it was so quick. One moment my beloved Margaret was alive, the next she was unconscious, and within twenty four hours she had died. In another way it was one of the longest days I have ever endured.
On the night she died, family and friends kept what could only be described as a vigil. At about midnight they tenderly and wisely left me to be alone with the one with whom I had shared my life for over sixty years! And, as I sat by her bedside I didn’t do much thinking. I just sat there. My mind closed down. The shock was simply too much for it to comprehend. The hospital staff had considerately prepared a bed for me alongside Marg’s but I knew I wouldn’t need it. All I wanted was to be with her as she breathed her last breath. Did I pray for her recovery? No! That for me would have been blasphemy. I simply sat listening to her breathing.
And then it stopped! It simply stopped, and it was all over – the breath of life, the Spirit of Life, left her and all that remained was a lifeless body. And all I could think about was the old Jewish idea of God as the Spirit of Life which entered into the body when the new born baby took its first breath, and departed when the chest of the old person stopped moving and the Spirit of Life left the body.
What a brilliant understanding of God it is! God is not a guy in the sky manipulating the levers of life but the Spirit of Life, the Essence of Life, by which “we live and move and have our being”. Forget about pie in the sky when we die! To be, or not to be, really is the question. This is what the Christian Faith is all about – in the words of Jesus “life in all its fullness”. And my heart grieves for the Church as it peddles so much “non-sense” about life in heaven for the righteous. It is about life in this world that the Christian Faith is all about!
As I watched the Spirit of Life leave the body of my beloved, I wept – but at the same time I recognized the great truth, that life in all its fullness is portrayed in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. He lived life to the full, and my Maggie took note and did the same. Her life is now over but her loving Spirit lives on, not in a body, but in the lives that her life touched.
To be, or not to be, really is the question. Aristotle asked the question “How shall I live my life?” and Jesus answered it.
And that basically is what the Christian faith is all about.