I look forward to reading J Todd Billings’ recent book, The End of the Christian Life📚. In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the podcast he’s produced interviewing friends he met while writing the book.
In particular, I found Billings’ interview with Thomas Lynch on the human body refreshingly honest. Their conversation dignified the the dead and the work of those who oversee the last journey of this life. Lynch speaks of his work as an undertaker with genuine gratitude and poetic insight. He sees the beauty of the body, even in death.
In my work as a hospital chaplain, I’ve accompanied families of the dying. I think Lynch has it right when he says that, in those moments, the mundane is interrupted by mortality. Even the moment of death happens in-between breaths. There is a before and after death. Both spaces require their own sort of paying attention. Both are told as stories.
This theme of death and dying came home to me last week when I made the decision to put my dog to sleep, after he suffered sudden, internal bleeding. My pup, Moses was part of our family. My wife and I adopted him from the shelter and he moved around the country with us. His daily companionship and capacity to be present offered grace and peace. As one of God’s beloved creatures, he served us well and has his place in kingdom come, kept by God. I’ll miss you, Mosey.