Viewing death as the gateway to life

By Christopher Mendonca

Death and destruction seem to be a part of the staple diet of so many. They leave behind a trail of brokenness, hopelessness and devastation so shattering that strangely, death itself seems to be the preferred option which many hope will put an end to their suffering. Death is often our neighbour. It is often the choice of those who have lost hope in themselves and in others. It is the perceived certainty that the inevitable will occur which triggers a death-wish response. Lurking in the subconscious is a world which is threatened with collapse, a world that can no longer sustain itself. There is nothing more to live for.

From this perspective, it is not uncommon that not only do we sometimes see death as a liberation and escape from suffering but often go a step further. We wish the death of those who inflict suffering on us, as another alternative to ending our suffering. We wish and call for ‘divine retribution’ so that a sense of justice and closure may be accomplished. It is not long before the victim in turn becomes the persecutor. As for those struggling with emotional, psychological and physical illness, whose suffering can at best be alleviated by medication, death seems the most humane response we could wish for them. We seem caught in a karmic cycle of death and destruction and a life devoid of meaning, even if it is only self-satisfying.

The egg which harbours within itself life in its embryonic form is unable to bring it to fruition if it is broken from the outside. But if it allows itself to be broken from within, it brings forth new life.

The celebration of Easter symbolised by the Easter Egg brings us face to face with the ultimate question we must ask ourselves. Are we unable to resist being broken from without by our programmed responses to adversity, suffering and death? Or, are we willing to allow ourselves to be broken from within, and thus step outside what seems like a vicious circle of life? Easter challenges us to change our perspective. We are being asked to profess our faith in ‘life’ even as we encounter death in its varied forms. Faced with our own brokenness, hopelessness and inner devastation, we are not to seek physical death as a preferred option that will end it, but rather embrace death of the self that will transform it.

We are not even to contemplate the death of the oppressor as the means to ending our suffering. We are being asked to forgive rather than call for divine retribution. Justice and closure are achieved by our not falling into the trap of those who were persecuted, now becoming persecutors in their turn. We are being asked to believe that even if the ‘inevitable’ occurs, the result will surely be different from what we expected.

And as for sharing others’ grief and sorrow, as they experience death in its various forms, we will best do this by our silent presence, comforting them with the consolation we ourselves experience as we view death from a different perspective. Easter invites us to view death as the gateway to ‘life’ in all its fullness.

Easter is on April 4



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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