Faced with the passing of someone we love, our heart cries out in the passion of its loneliness and is not comforted with easy answers.
Our heart tells us that we are meant to live, not to die. We are meant to express life ever more consummately. When someone fails to do this, we wonder why.
To understand the meaning of death, we must understand the meaning of life. Looking at life, we see that all things change. But although all things change, nothing perishes. Things only change.
If this is true in the world of things, how much more true it is in the world of mind! Soul has a substance of its own, no less permanent for being immaterial, no less real for being invisible. We cannot measure it with calipers or weigh it in a balance. We cannot feel it with our fingers or see it with our eyes. But it is there, substantial, real. It changes, but it will not perish.
Life does not begin with birth. It does not end with death. Life is an eternal process, an eternal progress. This visible form, this audible voice, this aggregation of organs, this network of ideas—we are more than these. These are the trappings of visibility. We are an expression of the Spirit of life.
Stand on the shore at night. You can hear the sound of the waves. You can see them break and whiten on the rocks. But the sea itself, vast and imponderable and strange and deep, you cannot see.
The wave breaks on the rocks and then is gone, and all that is left behind is a fading line of foam. Yet the sea is more than the foam that fades on the rock. The sea is more than the wave into which it shaped itself for a moment. When wave and foam are gone, the sea abides to shape itself into another wave and fling itself in foam on the rocks again.
You are like a sea that shapes itself into a wave. The wave will expend itself, but you will not expend yourself. You will shape yourself into an infinity of waves. You are the ever-renewing, ever-unfolding expression of infinite life. You are the spirit of the Infinite moving across infinity.
Eternity is not an alternation of life and non life. There is only life. The truth is that we cannot die. For we are life. Life is energy. Life is expression. It cannot cease because it is ceaselessness. We may change form and vanish from view, but we cannot cease to be. We never cease to be, not for a moment. We cannot be separated from life. We cannot be less than life.
Life is a road that winds among the hills of time. With every turn in the road an old view vanishes, a new view appears. Life is a pilgrimage, a passage through eternity, a journey into the unknown. People are as travelers on a journey.
Some pass quickly beyond the bend in the road that hides them from our view. Some walk beside us all the way. Some seem to creep along, and some pass swiftly as a runner. But life cannot be measured in terms of time, only in terms of living.
When people die they do not cease to be; they only pass beyond human sight.
There is a unity beyond the unities of time and place and even thought, a unity that links us as one, just as all the waves are one sea and all the islands one earth. Does not love link us with our friends though they be on the other side of the Earth? So those we love may pass beyond the reach of hands but not outside the heart.
Why are we afraid of death? It is because we are afraid of the unknown. Yet is not each new day an adventure into the unknown?
Exactly what is on the other side of death we do not know. But we may be sure that it is life. Life is on the other side of death as it is on this side.
Death is not evil. Neither is it good. Is the turning of a page good or evil? Is the rest between two notes of music good or evil? Is the opening of a door good or evil? Death is an incident. It is a part of life, as sleep is a part of life, as nightfall is a part of life. Sleep gives way to waking. Night turns into day. So death is but the passage from life to life.
Death is a door through which we pass into another room. It is a rest between two notes in an unfinished symphony. It is a page we turn to a new chapter in the book of life. It is not the end; it is a new beginning. It is not the fall of night; it is another dawn.
We may not know just what will occur when we pass through the door. Yet we can trust the Keeper of Infinity. Life is the work of a grand and kind intelligence and has an order and a meaning beyond our power to see. Who among us could have planned an atom or a star? Who could have contrived the Earth, the seasons, the delicate balance of forces that permits life on Earth to exist? What scientist could have fashioned the human body? What philosopher could have thought of the laws that govern mind and space? What poet could have imagined love and wonder?
We can trust this intelligence that made the world. We were not made for dying, or for failure, or for pain. We are meant to live gloriously. We are the children of the Infinite. We have a divine destiny. We are advancing toward this destiny.
Out of the Infinite we came and into the Infinite we return. But we are upward bound. We have risen through an eternity of experiences. We shall go higher yet.