EUTHANASIA & BIRTH
We turn our mind to the end of life and we find the debate concerning Euthanasia ever so gradually is increasing in our time. A belief in the sanctity of life has shaped our behaviour for centuries. Yet to personally witness the traumatic suffering of a loved one at the point of such death can easily convince one to declare their preference for euthanasia. If we then turn our mind to the opposite end of life we acknowledge birth is one of life’s joyful times for all, except in most cases for the woman giving birth. For her it is temporarily a traumatic experience until the babe safely appears. These moments of trauma in birth or dieing highlight a reality of life.
In between these great bookends, from day to day, year to year, decade after decade we encounter regular events with the same story, a story of challenge, with change and renewal, renewal and regeneration, death and life. This process of renewal and regeneration of life speaks of the breaking down and dieing of the old for the sake of a greater new. Bush fires can terrify us. But the regeneration of life following a bush fire regularly amazes people and speaks powerfully of the persistence of life. The greening of the black landscape stands as one glorious miracle.
Theologians use the term ‘creation continua’ to speak of life in its continuous process of regeneration.
A process of collapse, decay, death, rebirth, renewal and a flourishing of new life is the cyclical process that is the very story of life. It moves humanity forward to explore and build a better world. In a word we believe and trust in this process. When we stop believing, we stop dreaming and are in danger of stagnating. Life gets caught in a rut. Far from being comfortably settled, pathology sets in and we regress to suffer the consequences. In varying degrees along this path we rail against the degeneration and cling to dreams of only the good.
All we know is that the common general path for humanity is a cycle of dieing and living.
For the next four weeks we are going to reflect upon this truth from a particular perspective.
It is what particularly concerns us, a spiritual perspective.
A CAUTION OF LITERALISM
‘First things first’ is to remind ourselves about the danger of always assuming scripture is to be read literally. In today’s case suggesting ‘the sun and moon will stop shining its light and the stars fall from the sky’ as a historical prediction I want to suggest is to miss the intent. The picture of a collapse of creation makes most sense when we think of it implying a different type of transformation.
I am suggesting that in the spiritual journey this is more realistic to understand it as a dramatic image to refer to as a conversion experience within the heart and mind of the person.Yes it’s a dramatic picture because spiritual birth is like a dramatic change in the way we view life and it comes about through a dramatic process. It is the turning of ones world upside down. That’s why I say it must reflect that same dieing and living cyclical path I presented at the beginning of this presentation.
To illustrate why this might be the case we recall that there are numerous passages in scripture referred to as apocalyptical. They are usually written in times of great persecution, and call people to a vision of hope in the midst of their darkness. They use extremely dramatic imagery to emphasizes this message of hope by way of this deep reassurance of the eventual spiritual triumph of life. The imagery of ones world breaking apart is the process we have been speaking of as fundamental to all life’s regeneration.
This reading today recalls the imagery of Daniel in the Old Testament. It’s style of writing was apocalyptic. The book of Daniel has not been regarded as an accurate history book. It was written in the context of persecution and written as if a record of life in the time of the oppressive Exile to encourage the people to hold fast to their faith as people of the past did. As we read, it finishes with the picture of the ‘Son of Mans’ appearance through the midst of the collapsing universe.
That’s right, the spiritual path is as if our external world falls apart so that we may open our hearts and minds to the countless ways the Lord can be seen coming to our daily life. The Lord is in our midst awaiting our eyes to open to his presence. This is the reflection of the dieing – living, fragmenting - regeneration story we have mentioned is the story upon which life is built. A new world is created that we can see through the birth of our spiritual eyes.
This month of December leading up to Christmas is going to look at this spiritual awakening from various perspectives. It opens the pathway that our Christian faith calls us to follow that brings us to a spiritually intimate meeting with our Lord. Advent seeks to confront us with a fundamental reality of life, the necessity of a spiritual awakening that opens the pathway for our divine meeting. The image of the humble birth of Jesus will ground this divine life great in our daily walk with the Lord.