Thursday, March 31, 2005

 

Life and Death . . .

Today, March 31, Terry Schiavo died in Florida. No matter where you fall in the great argument surrounding the life of this woman, the fact remains that her passing deserves a moment of silence, a somber reminder that for all of us life is fragile.

Terry's life and death and the whole ruckus over what were her final desires causes me to ask some questions:

How do we measure soul? I mean, some doctors tried to convince her family that she had no "conscious" existence. What instrument did they use to measure that? I wasn't aware that we had found the "soul" or "consciousness" gene in our mapping of the human DNA. How did they know for certain that Terry wasn't aware?

As far as I know, we have no scientific way of measuring the existence of the soul. We have some theories, some ideas, but nothing concrete. I could be wrong, but if such measurements exist, I don't know of them.

I also wonder why we consider it compassion to starve an individual in Terry's condition? Most of us in the West have never endured the hunger pains or other anguish that comes with starvation. Oh, our stomaches my growl on occasion, but we've never really starved. It is definitely not a humane way to end a life.

Why have we in the West decided that "life" can be quantified or even qualified? I have heard arguments over "quality of life" until I am sick. No, I wouldn't want to be in Terry's shoes (or in Michael's either!), but it seems more rational to me to err on the side of reason. If we had any doubt (and I had plenty), we should have let her live. Who knows what could have happened?

Finally, I have to look in amazement and wonder why folks say things like, "Well, I guess it was God's will for Terry to die." Why do we say things like that? Technically speaking, it is God's will for all of us to die. We start the process when we are born. Do we really think that God delighted in Terry's situation? Why are we so quick to determine for God what he thinks? God knows I've done it way too many times.

Well, I've rambled enough. I have no good answers for my questions, and I won't even try to give bad ones at this time. I wanted a moment of silence, and in typical human fallenness I filled the silence with foolish words. Terry has ended her journey on this earth. Her life had blessings and plenty of sadness. May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

 

Waiting in an Airport

Have you ever had an experience that totally changed your perspective on a typically overlooked place or institution? This past Sunday and Monday I had just such an experience at the Charlotte Airport (please note--If you are from Charlotte, comments here are not directed at you or your fine city).

This past Sunday I flew into the Charlotte from Memphis on U.S. Airways. When I arrived, I went to the proper gate to make my connection to Lynchburg. We left the airport sometime near midnight and made out turbulent way to Lynchburg. The weather included thunderstorms and lots of wind, so we had a bumpy ride. We made good time to Lynchburg (it took about an hour), but instead of landing at Lynchburg, we promptly turned around and headed back to Charlotte (now there's a movie title for you!). We landed at the Charlotte Airport (for the second time!) around 2:00 a.m. After returning to our gate, we were promptly informed by the "helpful" personnel that "No hotels are available, so don't ask!" The next flight out would be 8:00 Monday morning, so what's a guy to do? Spend the night in the airport, that's what!

Did you know that you can learn a lot about people by watching them sleep or otherwise fight sleep in a public place? There were a couple dozen of us who spent the night waiting for our flight to Lynchburg. I read several good books, talked to some interesting folks, and wished that I had stayed in Memphis. I would like to share some thoughts here.

An airport can be awfully quiet and incredibly strange at 2 in the morning. I found me a place to sit and read and proceeded to watch and listen. Two guys were cleaning carpet near gate 6 (the gate through which I would take my next great adventure in Charlotte), others were generally cleaning up the place and doing odd work. What interested me was the sounds. A hard rain fell on the building, ringing on the roof and windows hard enough to make you fear for a flood. I could hear the escalators and moving sidewalks going through their eternal mechanical paces with no one on them. I could hear the pops and wheazes of the various machines in the restaurants and newstands. I could hear water drip, drip, dripping through a hole in the roof. It was, in a way, both strange and grand. Like sitting outside in the woods on a starry evening, you could hear creatures both stirring and still. In a way, it was almost idyllic and peaceful.

Around 5:30, human traffic in the terminals began to increase. Security people showed up to station themselves at their x-ray machines and their metal detectors. Someone started brewing coffee and the whole airport seemed to wake up like a gentle giant stirring from a blissful night of slumber. Footsteps echoed and voices penetrated the silence as the noise of life animated the lifeless airport and hastened the sleep from this giant's eyes. People began to trickle in, then rush in like a flood as the planes began landing and the ticket counters opened. The place that seemed almost like a giant tomb three hours ago now began to buzz with the business of another hectic day. It was downright inspiring.

I made my way to my gate, I got on my plane, and off I went to Lynchburg. Or, so I thought. We got to Lynchburg, but again we didn't land. Instead, we turned around and headed back to Charlotte. I thought to myself, "In the past 24 hours, I have landed at Charlotte 3 times, and I am beginning to dislike that place!" Well, to shorten the narrative, I rented a car and drove to Lynchburg. Three other passengers joined me in my mini-van as we made our pilgrimage from the awakened and almost angry giant of Charlotte airport to the quiet and welcome embrace of home.

I learned a lot that night:

1. I learned that in spite of 40+ years, I could still stay up all night.
2. I learned how long it takes to read all of John Grisham's The Bleachers and Millard Erickson's Postmodernizing the Evangelical Faith (approximately 7 hours total).
3. I learned that you can find "moments" of sanity in the midst of chaos.
4. I learned that God has a sense of humor.
5. I learned that I really don't like the travelling that much, and that no matter how many times you fly over Lynchburg, you may not land there after all.
6. I learned that life is what we make of it, and even in trying times it can be fun.
7. I learned that Charlotte can be a fun and frightening place.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

 

The difficulty of life . . . Part 2

Hello all, I wanted to update you on my two friends who were battling illnesses. Ann, the older of the two, lost her battle with cancer recently and went to be with her Lord. I know I speak for the families and friends when I say thanks for the prayers on their behalf.

Allison, the younger of the two, is actually improving. The doctors decided that her "cancer" was actually treatable, and she is currently undergoing a form of chemotherapy to fight the cancer. She isn't out of the woods yet, but the prognosis is more positive. Please continue to pray.

Life can be good.

Hang in there.

You matter.

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