Dying to be beautiful

Perichoresis.  "To dance or flow around".  A relatively unpoetical Greek word that describes the poetry of worship, of glorifying, of praising our Creator.  On nearly every page of His book, there is a command, a suggestion, or a mention of our praising God. Unbelievers have time and again labeled this as the ultimate in self-servient pride, proof that God is, indeed (if He exists at all) a megalomaniac sadist who has human puppets dancing in a fiery and comedic tragedy toward their eventual, unwitting and stupid death.


Seen without the lens of Christ, that's exactly what this life is.  A march toward the inevitable grave, the only redeeming value whatever legacy we leave for the next generation, the one after that, the one after that...the gifts we give to the others on this death march a few miles behind us.  Some take comfort in nature, seeing the death and return of the plants as a sort of allegory for our own endless circle of spiritual reincarnation.


Then there is spiritism - the idea that we all flow from and return to a great conglomerate spiritual place that is safe and beautiful.  Kind of like this tree - the sap rising up through the branches and strengthening them, finding eventual release in the leaves at the very tips of the branches, the last to let go in the fall winds.  When they finally let go that tenacious clasp to life, they die in the ground and feed the trees again.


The ancients were like seeds, released from life and lingering in the air, flitting on the autumn breeze for days or months, until that essence was finally carried to a permanent home in the afterlife - whether it be the monarchic underworld of Zoroastrianism, the tiered hell of the Greeks and Romans, or dichotomous Kingdom of the Dead of the ancient Egyptians.


I tried all that on for size, somewhere between the end of high school and the beginning of my career.  But all those tabernacles and churches, places of worship and places of gathering left me begging one question still: why dance?


What about a hierarchy in a Kingdom of the Dead inspires wonder? The pale and resigned hope of reincarnation as a slightly better person so you can do it all over again - what about that inspires praise?  If I simply return to the Great Spirit, why worship?


It dawned on me slowly, as I experimented, and wondered, and searched, and groped in dark places and seethed blindly with the masses when the light was blinding.
And then the heart of Eowyn changed, or else at last she understood it. ~J.R.R.Tolkien, The Return of the King
To sleep, perchance to dream.  To die, perchance to be in glory, to glorify, to dance as never before.  There is something about this great big God that has gets my feet moving and my body twirling, even when the dinner dishes are like scattered carcasses on the kitchen island, and the children screech their energetic protestation of bedtime even from behind closed doors, and husband is weary and wife is worn and messes abound and nothing about this house looks redeemed.

In the green and yellow grasses dying at first frost...the last leaves clinging to the tippy-top of the winsome oak tree...the seeds gathering droplets of rain...the cat's one aged green eye glinting in the yellow haze of the first winter storm...the rusty spade in the dead-green grass...the pock-marked red of the last rose blossom against the hole-bitten fade of her dark green leaves...

Death comes to us all, that last final season that brings with it weeping.

For some, it is a season of putting on beauty.  The old, old skin glows pink as every blood vessel within squeezes life to the surface in one final bloom of beauty.  The parchment paper husk of face turns a glowing pink and yellow in the last light of the soul's release.  The lips relax their corners and the wrinkles fade.  The beatific smile forever remembered as a sign of peace.

Crippled by age or infirmity, what we see in those beautiful last moments is the soul dancing away from a body that long forgot how.  If you know where you are going - and perhaps, when you lie quiet in your bed though your family throngs close and tight and twittering, you are already present with Jesus - this is when the real dance begins.
For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory. Indeed, what was endowed with glory has come to have no glory in this respect because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was going to fade was glorious, how much more will what endures be glorious. (II Corinthians 3:9-11)
.................................................................
Thoughts as a dear great-aunt lies dying.  To be continued, in part II, tomorrow.