Friday, April 30, 2010

Afterlife on Facebook

A dear friend of mine died suddenly in early January. Strangely - or perhaps not in this strange and modern world - his facebook friends continue to post things on his page. It has transformed from a recollection of his life through his own eyes into a recollection of his life through our eyes. Nobody sends him, "Join my fan page" messages now, or "help me win at Mafai Wars." That's all useless in memoriam.

They say stuff that matters.

"I miss you every day."

"You were my number one."

"Wishing you were here to talk to. You always listened to me."

"Thank you for loving me."

I could pontificate about the finality of death, quote John Mayer with "say what you need to say", and encourage you to tell everyone you love them. But that's not what his Facebook obituary is prompting in me. Rather, I'm seeing how much that we pursue is superfluous, how much of life is distraction from what matters most.

I'm at peace with my friend's death. I was a good friend and pastor to him, best I could be, in fact. I have zero regrets about our relationship. He and I were at peace with one another and our friendship was an exercise of mutual edification. When I was with him I liked me, and I think he liked himself when he was with me.

Oh, I miss him, don't get me wrong. But today I'm taking an inventory of my relationships and asking myself if I've pursued peace with all whom I should, and if I've built up others in every way I can. The list is long, the time is short, where am I to start? And how to proceed? I am, after all, subject to the ideas in Tenneyson's ode to his dead friend,

So runs my dream, but what am I?
An infant crying in the night
An infant crying for the light
And with no language but a cry.

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