A pondering from the Rev. Lynn White, Priest Associate

Endings and Always

“My spirit is broken, my days are extinct,  the grave is ready for me” (Job 17:1)

 Extinction, the dying out, the termination/end of life of organisms as we know them, usually a species, is nothing new. The old phrase, “Here today, gone tomorrow,” rings true. Amazingly and almost difficult to believe, estimates suggest that 99% of all species that have lived on earth have died out. 

 Today, scientists are alarmed at the high rate that species are disappearing. We all know about dinosaurs, mammoths, even human-sized penguins, all of which have vanished. Florida’s panthers and bobcats are on the endangered species list and now we worry about bees. We understand evolution, but our hearts tug at the thought that a million species are at risk of extinction, some because of human actions, like cutting down forests, converting land into farming, use of plastics, and burning fossil fuels. An alarming 25% of plant and animal species are threatened today with extinction. Endangered species seem rampant. 

 It’s not only animals and plant life which are endangered. I wonder if you read or noticed an editorial cartoon which ran in last week’s Chicago Tribune? It was entitled, “Endangered Species List.” It was a picture of 8 animals: a panda, a rhinoceros, a fox, a turtle, a penguin, a tiger, an ape, and a buffalo. On each animal there was a word printed. The list read: Truth, Competition, Morality, Facts, Sanity, Science, Compassion, and Honesty, all hallmarks of a Godly healthy society. The artist/author, Mike Luckovich, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, obviously felt that these traits were in peril/endangered as some of the animal species. A sad commentary on our society.

  What do you think? Is Luckovich right? Are these traits disappearing? Are we guilty in having a hand in their disappearance? Might we stand up and be counted for our hand in contributing to extinction, our hand in the degradation of society, or our attempt to find a better way?

 Matthew Arnold wrote in Merope in 1858, “Peace, peace is what I seek, and public calm; Endless extinction of unhappy hates.” 

 Extinction is not always bad, take disease or unhappy hates for example. Might we take note of Arnold’s words and seek peace, the end of animosity and evil, and a better way. Instead of only focusing on endings, might we focus as well on forever and always. While plants and animals might end their earthly existence, they continue to give, even live, through feeding the earth and us. In that way, their lives go on forever.

 Might we learn from life and Scripture, and as Philippians 4:4 instructs: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice.” I don’t think Job’s spirit is broken, rather his thinking is off track. As 2nd Corinthians 3:4-6 teaches us, “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything is coming from us; our competence is from God who has made us to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter, but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” We don’t end at the grave, rather we are launched. The peace that passes all understanding is offered to us. “The end is eternal life” (Rom 6:22), another beginning.

 To God be the glory!