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A Plumbline in the Wind

The world is going to the dogs, but I refuse to learn to bark

Psalm 119:48 I revere thy commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on thy statutes.

A Plumbline in the Wind Near Lauder, Scotland: Sheep on a hillside

If you didn’t already think I was heartless…

19 January 2008 · No Comments

…you will now. But sometimes it is necessary to say something outrageous in order to bring under examination the assumptions of a culture.

Today I heard on the radio a story about a woman who donated a kidney to someone and now devotes herself to trying to arrange kidney donations. It brought to my mind a certain genre of kidney stories one reads in the newspaper, the ones with headlines like, “High School Football Star Donates Kidney to Grandmother.” The focus of the story is on the selfless heroism of a young man giving up a potentially vital organ (since at the moment he has two and one is expendable) to keep his aged relative alive. Frankly, I find these stories disturbing.

I have to admit that I am not currently facing any life-threatening conditions, so you can discount anything say; but I believe that while the young man may be selfless and heroic, the old lady in the story is the opposite, possibly without even being aware of it. Fairly soon, kidney or no kidney, she is going to die anyway. Yet in order to gain a few more years she is willing to allow, if not to ask, her young and healthy grandson to put himself in danger–not simply now, but for the rest of his life. The grandson is young, and can only see the loss that the death of his beloved grandmother will mean. Like most young people, he does not understand that life in this world will be made up of many losses, and that they are inevitable and therefore he must learn to endure them. Most grandparents, especially in this day, do not outlive their grandchildren, so the loss that he is trying to forestall is only delayed, not prevented. She who, we may presume, has had the opportunity to learn this lesson, is blinded by the absolute fear of death that characterizes the world’s attitude today. Death, whenever it comes, is the next stage of her pilgrimage toward God, and she will have to accept it one of these days.

Maybe when I am faced with the imminent prospect of death I will feel differently. I pray to God that by His grace I will not. May I have enough faith in God and hope in His redemption that I may accept the burden of mortality, and not to consume the energy and the substance, let alone to cannibalize the living flesh, of my children or grandchildren or even of total strangers, in order to cling to what I must sooner or later lose. May I hail the city of God, when it comes into view, with the cry of the pilgrims of old as they crested the last hill and saw Jerusalem, “Mountjoy!”

Tags: Politics and society · Spirituality

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