The Mormon pioneers were driven out of Nauvoo Illinois in 1846 by armed mobs. That exodus began a 23 year gathering by ox drawn wagons, and handcarts. More than 6,000 died and were buried along the way. Yet they came singing. A verse of their favorite song says, “And should we die before our journey’s through, happy day all is well. We then are free from toil and sorrow too. With the just we shall dwell.

“But if our lives are spared again to see the saints their rest obtain, oh how we’ll make this chorus swell. All is well. All is well.”

That is still our declaration.

A number of years ago, my father lay in the home in which he had spent most of his adult life. His wife of 64 years sat quietly near the bed set up for him in the family room where he could catch a little more sunlight. His sons gave him a blessing, and later that night, he struggled into his next life. He did not just slip away. It was hard for him to get the job of dying done. His body still had strength from the years he had labored to support his family and to live his faith. But at length his time came and he passed away.

That night a feeling of accomplishment filled the room and the house. We would miss his counsel, his friendship, and his sense of humor. But he had done what he came to do in this life, and he felt it was time for him to move on.

For those who have lived long and well death is sweet. We as a society often seem unable to accept that fact. Too many times loved ones and health professionals expend heroic efforts and vast sums of money to extend a life even when he or she would prefer to move on. Sometimes the life they extend is a poor excuse of an existence, filled with pain and limited capabilities.

There is even some speculation about eventually extending life indefinitely. This is foolishness. It comes of a wrong paradigm we have on the here and the hereafter. Locked into scientific humanism as our unofficial national philosophy, we are unable or unwilling to look past the veil of death to what might lie beyond. Because of this we have turned death into a horrible non-existence to be postponed and fought off at any price. It becomes a contest in which to live is to win; to die is to lose. This is the wrong metaphor. Death is not defeat. It is a transformation into eternal life.

This view of life and death hurts even more when we see a child struck down by disease; a young soldier killed in battle; a mother taken before she can rear her children, a promising life snuffed out by bad habits and dissipation. These are, of course, sad and even sometimes tragic events. But they are made infinitely more heart rending when we view death as a horrible empty long dark and lonely chasm instead of the door to a better world, which is what it really is.

Death will come to us all soon or late. But it will affect us long before it takes us. How we view life dictates in large measure how we view death. Likewise how we view death influences how we live life. Will we spend our years anxiously avoiding the shadow of the grim reaper, or will we invest our time and energies preparing to enter a more glorious existence when our time comes? Then we will be comforted to know that death here is birth into the hereafter.

The Mormon pioneers were driven out of Nauvoo Illinois in 1846 by armed mobs. That exodus began a 23 year gathering by ox drawn wagons, and handcarts. More than 6,000 died and were buried along the way. Yet they came singing. A verse of their favorite song says, “And should we die before our journey’s through, happy day all is well. We then are free from toil and sorrow too. With the just we shall dwell.

“But if our lives are spared again to see the saints their rest obtain, oh how we’ll make this chorus swell. All is well. All is well.”

That is still our declaration.

A number of years ago, my father lay in the home in which he had spent most of his adult life. His wife of 64 years sat quietly near the bed set up for him in the family room where he could catch a little more sunlight. His sons gave him a blessing, and later that night, he struggled into his next life. He did not just slip away. It was hard for him to get the job of dying done. His body still had strength from the years he had labored to support his family and to live his faith. But at length his time came and he passed away.

That night a feeling of accomplishment filled the room and the house. We would miss his counsel, his friendship, and his sense of humor. But he had done what he came to do in this life, and he felt it was time for him to move on.

For those who have lived long and well death is sweet. We as a society often seem unable to accept that fact. Too many times loved ones and health professionals expend heroic efforts and vast sums of money to extend a life even when he or she would prefer to move on. Sometimes the life they extend is a poor excuse of an existence, filled with pain and limited capabilities.

There is even some speculation about eventually extending life indefinitely. This is foolishness. It comes of a wrong paradigm we have on the here and the hereafter. Locked into scientific humanism as our unofficial national philosophy, we are unable or unwilling to look past the veil of death to what might lie beyond. Because of this we have turned death into a horrible non-existence to be postponed and fought off at any price. It becomes a contest in which to live is to win; to die is to lose. This is the wrong metaphor. Death is not defeat. It is a transformation into eternal life.

This view of life and death hurts even more when we see a child struck down by disease; a young soldier killed in battle; a mother taken before she can rear her children, a promising life snuffed out by bad habits and dissipation. These are, of course, sad and even sometimes tragic events. But they are made infinitely more heart rending when we view death as a horrible empty long dark and lonely chasm instead of the door to a better world, which is what it really is.

Death will come to us all soon or late. But it will affect us long before it takes us. How we view life dictates in large measure how we view death. Likewise how we view death influences how we live life. Will we spend our years anxiously avoiding the shadow of the grim reaper, or will we invest our time and energies preparing to enter a more glorious existence when our time comes? Then we will be comforted to know that death here is birth into the hereafter.

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