04 December 2010

We Really Mean It

from Proverbs Nine (again)

Just one more--because it continues to haunt me.

"He knoweth not that the ghosts are there, in the shades; that her guests are in the valleys of Sheol."

King David talked about knowing what it meant to "walk through the valley of death."  As an upright man, who would fear no evil.  Mishley observes there is another way to make it through, though ominously in veiled ignorance.  The implication for the writer of Proverbs is that "not knowing there are ghosts" has a direct connection to behavior that one thinks is so sweet and seductive.  In everything is the implication of death; but the fool ignores this fact and blithely sates his desire, never realizing--as any kid studying the digestive system knows, all that pleasure has an end.

This is a lesson not to be avoided but understood; and the tradition is generally clear that we are not to see ourselves as inherently evil or suffused with sin; rather, we are to be humbled by a biological reality which can teach us not only to appreciate a pleasing moment when it occurs but to absorb the blow of the irrevocable end by understanding that if our physical essence returns to dust, it's our moral essence which is the only hope for living beyond the grave.

So when we say, "may her memory be a blessing," we really mean it.

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