Answer from the Other Side
by Father Charles Dickson, Ph.D.
In the biography of Madame Curie, the writer describes the tragedy in which the scientist's husband, Pierre,
is run over by an automobile. Madame Curie is clinging to his body,
kissing the corpse, while screaming with grief.
She would later write in her diary, these thoughts: "Your
coffin was closed and I could see you no more. Everything is over. Pierre is sleeping his
last sleep. It is the end of everything. Science does not have the answer; the answer must come from the other side."
The questions of life and death are as old as human existence. They have
been expressed in many different modes and by countless people, but perhaps never more
eloquently than by Job, when he asked, "if
a man dies, shall he live again?"
All the brilliant
minds of the ages find abysmal defeat
in the face of the irrationality of death.
The mystery can only be unlocked and
Job's haunting question answered, by the words of the Man
of Galilee, Who
taught His disciples by saying, "I am the Resurrection and the Life, he who believes in Me shall never
die." Madame Curie was right - the
answer must come from the other side. For Christians,
the answer has come. The resurrection of Christ
is God's eternal answer to our eternal question.
To be sure, the fear of death
and the hope of life has always
been a pervading question of every human culture. The very name, Easter
is not found in Scripture, but was borrowed from ancient tribes of northern
Europe who worshipped a god of the springtime. This god was supposed to be
responsible for the coming of warn breezes, the thawing of the frozen ground, and the
general resurgence of life. You might call it a kind of Resurrection;
and the god's name "Eactor". The early Christians took over the term since it expressed
exactly the event which they had witnessed. But it is far more than the resurgence of
plant life from a frozen ground; it is the resurrection
to eternal life from a hopeless
grave. That will always be the eternal
message of Easter.
Christ has conquered
death and, by God's
grace, we too shall inherit life eternal.
There are some, even within the Christian community, who would argue
that the reason Churches are crowded on Easter
Sunday is due both to tradition, and the desire to show
off new wardrobes. While that may explain attendance for a small
percentage, I believe the real reasons for such dramatically increased attendance have
little to do either with tradition or wardrobes. People
continue to ask Job's question, "If a man
dies, shall he live again?", and they continue to search for an answer.
Some of the world's greatest writers have expressed thoughts about death that are foreboding and filled with fear. Matthew Arnold called it a "prison"
and Omar Khayyam called it
a "door of darkness" while Shakespeare
referred to it as "the undiscovered country from which no traveler ever returns."
Without a personal faith in God, Who
promises us life through
the Resurrection of
His Son, such observations may indeed define
death. But, we look for another answer. An
answer that comes not from this side of life, so full of anxieties and fears,
but an answer which comes from the other
side - God's side.
Easter gives us perspective on both life and death.
What do I mean by perspective? Take the example of the father who was reading a mystery story. He came to the end, wherein the mystery was about to be resolved, only to discover
that his little daughter had torn the last three pages
out of the book. How inadequate is a mystery
if the last three pages are removed? How do
you get a perspective on the whole story? How do you understand the total meaning of
life without the Resurrection
When Our Lord promised, "He who lives and believes in Me shall never die." He provided us with the long term
perspective on life. It's much like
the example of the deep-sea diver moving slowly, clumsily into the dim twilights of the
depths. Relief from this means coming up into the fresh
sunlight and the sight of familiar faces. So, we
move through the depths that sometimes characterize the darkness
of our existence; sometimes feeling submerged in a sunless
despair. But, Easter tells
us that the darkness will not
prevail. There is light above darkness, a destiny beyond the dust,
a life beyond the grave.
We have an answer, it
has come from the other side - God's
Above all shadows rides the Sun
- from Lord of the Rings
Easter not only provides us with an
answer to facing our own death, but is also
helps us to deal with the loss of loved ones. When her son's birthday arrived, she
resolved to spend the entire day at the cemetery. On the way to the cemetery, she stopped
at a florist shop to buy a wreath. As she entered the shop she noticed a gray-haired lady
fussing with a dried-up looking plant. She asked the florist why she was fooling with that
plant, since it was dead. The florist
replied, "You're wrong, part of the plant has died, but
there is still much that is healthy. I can't let the rest shrivel up."
Those last words, "I can't let the rest shrivel up,"
suddenly struck home. "That's what I've been doing with my
life. Part of me has died, but I should not let the rest shrivel up," she
The Resurrection of Our
Lord not only provides us with an answer
to the ancient, question of Job, it
also gives us the personal strength to carry on following the loss
of loved ones.
When Peter Marshall was Chaplain of the United
States Senate, he was asked to deliver an address to the United States
Naval Academy graduating class. It was many in that class that knew they would be
soon facing life-threatening situations. Peter Marshall
used the appropriate story of a mother who was tending to her dying
son who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness
and had but little time left. One day, on the spur of the moment, the young boy looked at
his mother and asked, "What's it like to die?"
the mother got big tears in her eyes, but didn't want the boy to see, so she made an
excuse about having to tend to a chore in the kitchen and ran quickly to that area. Then,
she began to thing about what kind of an answer she would give him when she returned to
his room. Then, the answer came to her. She had left his room to go the kitchen so the
little boy wouldn't see her tears. Yet he knew she was in the same house, still near, but
in another room. Yes, that was it! That's how she would explain death.
She returned to his room, once she regained her composure, and began to explain how we do
not see others in another room, but yet still know that person is there. Then, she ended
her explanation to the lad, "Death is like going into
another room, but they're all rooms in God's house."
Through the victorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we have the hope of entering another room, but still remain in
Death is not a prison, a door of darkness,
not an undiscovered country; because of Easter, it
is a grand partnership with
the Lord of Life, Who removes fear
from the death event and changes it into a smooth
transition from one
room in His house to another.
From Job's question, to the dying
boy's question, to ours; all receive an answer. The answer comes
from the other side.