PSALM OF THE END
The natural world makes us think about the ending of life, as well as its beginnings. For nature "red in tooth and claw" reminds us about our own ending, too. Most of the time, we believe vaguely in the "immortality of the soul" - not a Christian teaching, as it happens. Or else we pin our hopes on progress, that everything will always get better. Yet this generation is (the first?) acutely aware that we shall not necessarily be handing on a better life to our children.
- God, we've forgotten your teaching:
that the kingdom of heaven is close to us!
- Humanity seems to have been around so long:
we assume our life just continues for ever.
- We no longer believe in resurrection:
these days we think we're immortal -
- progress must continue for humanity:
even if not for me, the future's infallible.
- We'd like to believe that life will go on:
this planet cocooned in the palm of your hand;
- but isn't that arrogant and selfish:
where is your promise of the 'end of the world'?
- A doctor must try to avoid the suggestion of death:
hospitals are there to keep us alive;
- surgery can offer me continuing youthfulness:
any expense is worth while to keep dying at bay.
- But you have taught us that you are my end:
it's only by dying that I'm born again;
- Jesus fulfilled your will by dying:
to live and settle down was his last temptation.
- Today we're expected to face global catastrophe:
the explosion of the earth by comet or collision,
- or we'll bomb or pollute ourselves out of existence:
just like the dinosaurs, humanity could perish.
- So help me, God, to face up to my end:
I know I must die, can I find you in my dying?
- Help us as nations take finality as possible:
you are in our endings as you were in our beginnings.
- Guide us in living with the chance of disaster:
sudden death not the horror that it held for our forbears.
- If you are with me today, and close to me this minute:
your kingdom of heaven is always at hand.