Sunday, June 25, 2006

What's Up With Death?

It is interesting that you should ask that. The reality is that it is not new or just lately that I've thought about death. I've ruminated and philosphized and theologized and contemplated death since I was a teenager. It is not a popular subject to be sure. It is one of the few realities of life that no one has made a reality show about. We'd much rather watch people engage in their lowest, grossest and evil inclinations as entertainment than contemplate the end of life and perhaps be forced to contemplate the fact that all of that was indeed a waste of a human life that, instead of being honorable, loving and worthwhile was degraded and lowered to less than shameless dogs and pigs in public sight. Ah, but that is another rant.....

But death IS the end of our life, and how we spend our life will determine how we die. If we live in depravity and degradation, we will die hopeless and angry and regretful. If we live in Love, we live in hope. I'm going to post some "Chapters on Death and Love" from an old book I was working on. (The opening chapters are in the link "Life, Death and Love" in my sidebar.) Perhaps this will explain my facination with death... which is not a facination with death, but a facination with true Life. Here's Chapter One.

Romeo and Juliet

"Ah. dear Juliet, why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe that unsubstantial death is amorous; and that the lean abhorred monster keeps thee here in dark to be his paramour? For fear of that I still will stay with thee, and never depart from this palace of dim night again: here, here will I remain (here with worms that are thy chambermaids; 0, will I set up my everlasting rest; and shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from this world wearied flesh.) Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! and lips, a the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death! Come bitter conduct, come, unsavory guide! Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on the dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark! Here's to my love! 0 true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die." Romeo

"What's here? a cup, clos'd in my true love's hand? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end: 0, churl! drink all, and leave no friendly drop to help me after? I will kiss thy lips; haply some poison yet doth hang on them, to make me die with a restorative. Thy lips are warm! Yea, noise! then I'll be brief - 0 happy dagger this is thy sheath, thet'e rest and let me die." Juliet

"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for, us ... the one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." St. John the Theologian

Romeo and Juliet. Love and death. I am the incurable romantic; I am drawn to death because I am drawn to God.

I wish to die because I am desperately in love with my Beloved. This is the heartbreaking joy of passion, it is the Divine Romance.

All lovers know that love bids us die for the sake of our beloved. This is the beautiful tragedy of love. The romantic amalgam of love and death is the highest, the simplest and most profound of all mysteries held tenaciously by the human heart. This is Truth: Death is the final witness to the true depth of passion of the lover for the beloved. It is not when, at the end of the story, the lovers finally make love that touches our very souls. The most captivating and romantic of all endings is when two lovers willingly and gladly die for the sake of eternity in one another's arms.

Death for the sake of love is simply the gospel according to Romeo and Juliet. Death is embraced by lovers because they know in death they will shed all the limits of the world and hindrances of this flesh to the final and complete union of their hearts. In death for the sake of love there is a trust as deep as their love that there will be a resurrection of the two as one, inseparable, complete and eternally bound. This is Truth, eternal, inescapable.

The heart of love knows that love and death are indeed a single substance. There has never been a lover who has not sworn he would forsake his very life for his beloved; every lover offers to his beloved his willingness to die for the sake of his love, for the sake of her love, as evidence of the passion in his heart. Love lays down its life for the beloved, sometimes in a single act, more often in acts done singlemindedly over the years for the sake of the beloved. Whether a life is sacrificed in a moment or over a lifetime, it is laid down for the sake of possessing the heart and soul of the beloved, it is gladly and willingly given to the one desired above all others.

But it is when we hear of two lovers choosing the moment, the single act with hope for some eternal certainty of one another's presence that our hearts are touched in a place that is sometimes too fearful and holy for even ourselves to enter and seek its blessing. Our reasonable, calculating minds will tell us the lovers' suicide pact was a waste of life, an eternal mistake, an unthinking and terribly short sighted solution to traverse the barriers of loving in a world that seems hostile to their romance. In our world-bounded humanity we resist touching the holy sorrow deep within us that envies them. We try to reason away the inexorable logic of love that, in our hearts, understands the reasonings of the heart broken by the desire for unhindered union with the beloved. We do this perhaps because in our humanity we fear death, and sometimes truly fear love more than death; but somewhere deep in our humanity we know death for the sake of love is what life is truly about, that it is an anchor of hope cast into the unfathomable depths of eternity itself. If we will, and we must, set aside our fears and open wide the door to the mystery of love and death we will find the One to Whom both love and death belong, in Whose image we are created, Whose nature we share. The door opens to the very dwelling place of our eternal Lover, God who gladly died for the sake of becoming one with us, His beloved, for all eternity.

This is, thus far, the end of my pilgrimage in my search for the meaning of my desire for death. I can go no further or deeper than the very love of God himself. This is the place I rest, this is where I am content to dwell for now: My desire for death is a witness to the very passion of God that has won my heart and mind and soul and strength. It is a manifestation of my desire dwell forever in the heart of my Beloved; in death alone can I truly know the depth of love that loves unto death.

In death alone I know that in love there is resurrection, that the love I share with my Beloved is stronger than death, a flame of passion many waters cannot quench. In death alone I know life is a burden gladly shed for the sake of eternity with my Beloved; all that keeps us apart, all our adversaries, the limitations of my flesh and heart are rendered powerless by death. In death sought for the sake of the Beloved, love alone is sovereign, our true union is consummated, finally and completely, and we will never be lost to one another again.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


There's something about watching someone die over the course of 3 years that brings a certain sobriety to your life. The Monastics speak of "the constant remembrance of death" as a spiritual discipline, that is, remembering that we are one heartbeat away from facing judgment. We drive, walk, eat, shop and sleep usually without a thought for the fact that we could be instantly killed by a sleeping driver, a random act of violence, a freak accident or a physical anamoly that no one knew existed in our bodies. No one is exempt from death, but we live as if we are immortal in THIS flesh. Not the flesh of our resurrection but the flesh that we feed, cater to, submit to and pamper. Even though it will eventually go into a hole in the earth and be eaten by the lowly worms, our flesh rules our immortal soul in this life. At nearly 54 now, every new and unidentifiable pain, every new spot and wrinkle, every weakness is a harbinger of death, a fleshly "post it" reminding me I am indeed fragile, failing, slowly rotting away within and without.

So what is the response of the human being to the self awareness of our own corruptibility? Join a spa, get a tan, get cut, tucked, rolled and lifted? Deny death and its messengers? No. I choose to look in the mirror and face reality, then thank God for and heed the warning that my "days are as grass; as a flower of the field so I flourished, but the wind is passing over me and soon I will be gone and the place thereof shall know me no more. " My days to repent are limited...they always have been, but tomorrow was always an assumed promise. I see the godliness I have yet to attain to and I know I don't have enough years left to reach my own vision much less God's vision for my life. It is not so much that I fear God as much as I sorrow that I am after all these years, still an adulterer in and with my own flesh, and I continue to grieve the One who is Faithful and True.

How then shall I live? As one who is dying. But I will not succumb to the classic "living in death mode": suddenly throwing aside all normalcy and doing life artificially, frenetically and extraordinarily, trying one last immoral tryst, taking exotic vacations and buying the frivilous things I denied myself in my responsible days, but by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ as St. Paul said. Every thought, not only the great ones, the clever and spiritual, the ambitious and enlightened ones. Every matter how ordinary, mundane, repetitive, and unremarkable, because every one is precious to God my Beloved if offered to Him.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Why Did We....

go to the Native New Yorker on Brown Road instead of the one we always go to on Gilbert Road?

God knows. What I know is that we were driving down Brown Road and a young blonde girl with a baby in each arm walked in front of our van. I slowed down and she stood there and stared at us. Then instead of walking back to the sidewalk, she walked into the middle of the street, cars dodging her. I told my wife to go get her. I pulled into a driveway and called 911. My wife dodged traffic and caught up to her and tried to guide her to the sidewalk. They walked down the middle of the road, my wife trying to talk to her and guide her toward the sidewalk. She waved her arms at oncoming traffic, some swerved around them, some stopped and gawked and drove on. Another woman got out of her car and helped guide her to the side of the road. We were able to get the babies out of the girl's arms. She tried to walk back into the traffic. We got her to stay on the sidewalk and she stood with tears welling in her eyes. The police arrived about a minute later. The policeman asked "What's your name, so we can help you..." She stood, a vacant stare then more tears. "I...I can't...remember... I think it's... Julie.......I need help, I just want to come down...I don't like pain." She held out her arm. It looked like someone had taken an icepick to the inside of her arm. By that time two more squad cars had pulled up with a woman officer. We handed the babies over to the police. I instinctively reached over to touch Julie on the arm and was going to say something, but she cringed. The policeman was saying, "You have to talk to me so we can help you..." I knew there was nothing else we could do but watch and I'd seen that kind of thing so many times before. So I motioned to my wife and we walked away and went and ate wings and drank beer. God have mercy on Julie and her beautiful children.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Well, here it is 3:33pm (really!), half the mark of the beast (Mountain Standard Time, no Daylight Savings) on June 6, 2006 and the Apocalypse still has not arrived. Maybe the Beast is on Eastern Time, or Greenwich Mean....

Anyway, I scoured Daniel and Revelation for what time zone the Beast works out of but it must be buried in the Bible Code somewhere I can't find it. Maybe its because I'm using the NIV and not KJV. Damn Protestant "modern dynamic equivalency paraphrase translations"! No wonder no one knows diddly about the end times any more. If DaVinci had used the "Good News For Modern Man" Bible we might have had to cast Adam Sandler and Roseanne as the leads in "The DaVinci Code". BUT, that's not what I'm blogging about. Here are some things I DID manage to find hidden deep within the codes of the Biblical text using the latest number/letter crunching software that dredges up every permutation of numerical/alphabetical assignments in Hebrew, Greek, English, Latin, Aramaic and "Dude"
(yes, there IS a "Dude Bible"....) Here are the Marks of the Beast that I have discovered:

Approximate number of the Beast

Roman numeral of the Beast

Number of the High Precision Beast

Number of the Millibeast

/ 666
Beast Common Denominator

(-666) ^ (1/2)
Imaginary number of the Beast

6.66 e3
Floating point Beast

Binary of the Beast

6, uh... what was that number again?
Number of the Blonde Beast

Area code of the Beast

Zip code of the Beast

666 mph
The speed limit of the Beast

Retail price of the Beast

Price of the Beast plus 5% state sales tax

Price of the Beast with all accessories and replacement soul

Walmart price of the Beast

Next week's Walmart price of the Beast

Phillips 666
Gasoline of the Beast

Route 666
Way of the Beast

666 F
Oven temperature for roast Beast

Retirement plan of the Beast

666 mg
Recommended Minimum Daily Requirement of Beast

6.66 %
5 year CD interest rate at First Beast of Hell National Bank, $666 minimum

Beast's lawyer's billing rate

Lotus 6-6-6
Spreadsheet of the Beast

Word 6.66
Word Processor of the Beast

CPU of the Beast

BMW of the Beast

DSM-666 (revised)
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Beast

1232 Octal, Apt. 29A
Beast's hexed address (programmers' joke)

Next-door neighbor of the Beast

The semi-Christ

The Number of the Beast on a Pentium

And yeah, dude, this IS REAL!!! Don't try to prove me wrong, 'cuz, like I KNOW this stuff and no one else does because the Catholic Church is suppressing me, man...and like, I'll probably be assassinated by Papal Vatican Secret Police for publishing this............If I don't post on my blog within 48 hours of 6:66pm tonight, send the FBI looking for my body.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Grandpa Fell Alseep

Philip Gilbert Henry Paulton fell asleep in the Lord Tuesday night, the Leavetaking of Pascha, at 10:30pm. Those who have been following my blog for a long time know I basically started blogging about this journey with his Parkinson's-like degenerative neurological disease that began in Fuddrucker's Bathroom . We've been taking care of him in our home for the past three years and had to move him to a nursing facility a month or so ago. My wife sat with him at the home his last four days.

I got the call from her as my young daughter and I were sitting down for dinner at 10:30pm Tuesday. Although she wasn't fond of him, she went with me to the home. She sat and watched as we prepared him for burial. She looked on without emotion. We washed him, annointed his body with myhrr, cardamon, frankincense and olive oil. We prayed the Psalter in the process. We had finished building his coffin, and the funeral home put him in it without embalming or cosmetics. We packed the coffin with dry ice and drove him to St. Paisius Monastery . We put him in the Church and prayed the Psalter all night until his funeral the following morning on the third day.

It is a relief and a blessing and a grief that he is gone. Suffering and death bring the realities of our finiteness and failure to light, it also brings to light love and compassion and healing if we will be open to learning from it. Lessons in life are hard as my daughter has discovered at such a young age.

It will take a few more days to decompress from this past week. We still have rooms to clean, belongings to sort, ceilings and walls to repair, and bathrooms to restore to normal usage. In a few weeks ( wife is reading this going "yeah, right...try 3 years...) the last vestiges of three years of Philip's disease will disappear under new paint and drywall and tile.
While Philip was destroying the house, he was building a spiritual home within us all.

May his memory be eternal.