When We Die

4837682207_f99b2224d6_mA text from a friend: “What do you believe happens when we die?”

She’d recently lost her son. He must have been no older than his late twenties, maybe early thirties. Over the years, she had told me enough about him that I knew he was troubled. I didn’t really know what kind of trouble. I knew she worried about him, about his ability to take care of himself. I don’t know how he died. I can only imagine.

But I cannot imagine what it feels like to have lost a son or daughter. I want to comfort my friend, but I don’t know how. [Read more...]

Las Madres: Art and Death in the Arizona Desert

pic“The artist is a beggar because she is empty, waiting to be filled. But the artist is also… someone who is driven to go out to the margins of society in order to learn what the margins can teach those at the center.”

When I’d read these words in Greg Wolfe’s editorial in the current issue of Image (#84), I immediately thought of fiber artist Valarie James. Living in the desert of southern Arizona, James hasn’t had to go far to get to society’s margins. When she walks her dog near her home, she finds objects left behind by Central American migrants who have risked their lives—and often lost them—as they traverse the harsh desert mountains seeking safety and the dignity of work in the United States. [Read more...]

The Soul of the Law

e7eccc8e1b84a088At the beginning of the old Norton Anthology of English Literature (4th Ed.) appeared this account from the medieval chronicler Gerald of Wales:

The Lord of Chateau-Roux in France maintained in the castle a man whose eyes he had formerly put out, but who, by long habit, recollected the ways of the castle, and the steps leading to the towers. Seizing an opportunity of revenge, and meditating the destruction of the youth, he fastened the inward doors of the castle, and took the only son and heir of the governor of the castle to the summit of a high tower, from whence he was seen with the utmost concern by the people beneath. [Read more...]

Saving the World: A Reflection on Germanwings Flight 9525

A couple of weeks ago, a German man decided to kill himself. There are thousands of such occurrences every day, except this time the man was a pilot, and in the process of his self-destruction, he also killed everyone on the plane along with him. Nobody seems to know why—he was depressed, disillusioned, etc.—but not to the degree that anyone thought him capable of such an act.

The black box of the smoldering wreck reveals the co-pilot’s pounding on the bolted cockpit door, and the screams of the 149 lives soon to be obliterated in a firebomb amongst the French Alps. Who knows what was racing through the mind of the man who had doomed the innocent along with himself. Was he lost to all sense, or was he impossibly indifferent? G.K. Chesterton considered the suicide a type of mass murderer: “The man who kills himself kills all men. As far as he is concerned, he wipes out the world.” [Read more...]

It Is Finished: Christ’s Words from the Cross

When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Sandro_Botticelli_016

It is finished. Of all Christ’s words from the cross, these move me most deeply. The words strike me as cryptic, charged with meaning. They trigger many questions in my mind. Jesus, what is finished? What exactly do you mean? What are you thinking as you speak?

[Read more...]


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