The Grail Code 
The miracle of death

<meta content=" 2.4 (Linux)" name="GENERATOR" /><br /> <style type="text/css"> <!-- @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } --> </style> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">My old pal Death has been hanging around quite a bit lately, calling to various friends and relations, waiting patiently for them to make up their minds.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">It happens that I heard a rather good sermon on miracles yesterday, so I’ve been thinking about death and miracles.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Very often when someone we love is dying we pray for a “miracle”—something that will somehow prevent the death. But isn’t death sometimes—or even very often—the miracle we’re really praying for?</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Fatal diseases, or potentially fatal ones, can be very unpleasant and unsettling. The pain may be unbearable, and the indecision and ignorance can be paralyzing. How do we fight the disease? Can it be fought at all? Should we give up the fight and focus on managing the pain? How can we possibly make a decision like that?</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">But then comes death, and the pain and confusion give way to peace and clarity. All must die; the question is merely when. Now, for that one particular case, we know the answer.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">A good death really is a miracle. Time intersects with eternity, and one soul makes the trip from one to the other. Peace and clarity can come just before death; nurses who have a lot of experience with these things tell me it’s not just possible, but probable. A Lutheran pastor told me that he has seen many people who had no faith or religious formation, who could not bring themselves even to think of death because it filled them with dread, suddenly show a peaceful and even happy serenity as death approaches, as though they had been granted a certainty that the rest of us are not ready for. These are miracles.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">The story of every human life ends with death—but only for us, earthbound as we are. We can glimpse eternity from far off, but we can’t make out the details of it.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">The story of Lancelot’s Grail quest quite properly ends with his death, since his story is the story of every human life. And his death is suitably miraculous.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">Remember that Lancelot’s sin destroyed, not just his friendship with Arthur, not just Arthur’s and Guinevere’s marriage, but the world. That was the consequence of his sin: the whole world of Camelot was broken in pieces. Lancelot spent the rest of his life—not a terribly long time—repenting of that sin. It took the destruction of everything he loved to bring him to repentance, but his repentance was honest and real.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">This is the real miracle: a death that leads from despair to peace, from doubt to certainty, from death to life. Sometimes our friends are saved from the brink of death by the intervention of doctors, or by inexplicably miraculous recoveries; but those are little miracles, hardly worthy of the name, when we stack them up against the miracle of a good death. We should remember that when we pray “your will be done,” and we should pray it with the complete conviction that God’s will is more wonderful than anything we can possibly imagine.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in"> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in">[I wrote this article two weeks ago, and since then the miracle we were waiting for has come to pass. Looking back on what I wrote, I can see nothing to change, and I give thanks that I was led not only to accept the inevitable, but to embrace it, however imperfectly and unwillingly.]</p> <p class="postmetadata alt"> <small> This entry was posted on Friday, February 13th, 2009 at 11:33 pm and is filed under <a href="" title="View all posts in Blog Posts" rel="category tag">Blog Posts</a>. You can follow any responses to this entry through the <a href=''>RSS 2.0</a> feed. 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