Do not seek death, death will find you.
But seek the road that makes death a fulfilment.
Another resurrection story. In the township of Nain
an only son joins Lazarus, and in time, Jesus himself.
(Let’s be generous, and add the daughter of Jairus;
that makes four members of the resurrection guild.)
Perhaps the widow’s son will outlive her, this time;
(this is the way things should be).
Then she will be spared the bitterness
of rekindled grief.
Another resurrection story,
but they are all really part of the one.
Death’s ultimate conqueror
having come among us.
The ones who followed after him
eventually understood that bodily resurrections
have little use
beyond the postponement of grief.
should be received as a divine gift.
Death’s purpose is not found in its reversal
There is a principle at the centre of creation,
written for all time in the dust
from which the universe was fabricated
and glowing with a lustre born
of hope’s never flagging defiance.
Given the formal name of ‘Grace,’
it is also known as ‘Generosity,’
and sometimes, ‘Kindness.’
The concept of this reckless munificence
frightens many, especially politicians,
eager to capture the votes of the mean-spirited,
and preferring the long-established reliability
of tax-cuts and border security
ahead of the uncertainty of noble compassion.
It would never do if those who are unworthy
were to receive something
to which they are not entitled.
Even those who have been touched
by this grace, given substance
in one who held back nothing,
struggle with generosity;
fearing to let go our truckloads of accrued stuff
in the delusion that it is of lasting importance.
The woman of Zarephath had nothing,
save her precious son, but acceded
to the prophet’s request to share their last meal.
This she did, according to the ancient story,
every day; discovering, in turn,
that the surprising quality of generosity abides,
glowing quietly with defiance.
She was not frightened;
the woman that Jesus spoke of.
He had looked on from a distance
as she dropped her unobtrusive coins,
two in number, small and copper,
into the large temple money box.
Was he able to hear
the soft clunking sounds produced
as they joined the pile of larger coins
in the treasury’s insistent receptacle?
The rich are calculating in their philanthropy,
lest their abundance be significantly diminished.
What does the law expect from me,
and how do I balance it against my other demands;
quite apart from my needs for comfort
and security in my old age?
How will this contribution look to my peers
as they surreptitiously glance
at the number and colour of the coins
as I make my offering?
The rich live with anxiety; their wealth
seldom delivers contentment or peace.
Any generosity that might have fed their hearts
is pressed by fear
to the borders of their being.
The widow in our story was poor, without savings
or pension; the coins, according to Jesus,
were all that she had to live on.
He concludes his story by offering her as an example
in a way that he never did with the rich.
Affirming her freedom and generosity,
he celebrates her courageous choice
to trust in God.