Not Today, Vampires
For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others. Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves. – Psalm 49:10-11 (NIV)
There is no way to outwit death, nor overpower it, nor bribe it, nor dazzle it with fame, nor pray it into abeyance. I will surely die. As is perhaps appropriate, the best way to summarize this rather gloomy sentiment is through country music:
If we were vampires, and death was a joke,
we’d go out on the sidewalk and smoke. …
Maybe time running out is a gift,
I’ll work hard to the end of my shift.
(“If We Were Vampires,” Jason Isbell)
Isbell and the psalmist are both capturing the same beautiful, melancholy, hopeful, desolate, inescapable truth: We’re all going to die. And it is precisely that dying which makes living so sweet. That’s why all vampire stories are tragic, that’s why tales about the fountain of youth always end in disaster.
My days are limited, precious, irreplaceable, God-given gifts. As are the days of my loved ones. Embracing the reality of death with unflinching fear is a great gift. It takes a muddled, uncertain morass of time and gives me back my days. Death teaches me not to trade my days for money or fame or anything else in the world. This morning, I will revel in the day.
God of life—thank you for the precious gift of my days. Help me truly live!
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.