03 January 2016


The last time I was out in the woods with the kids we wound up crossing a rather narrow bridge that walked 50 feet over a rocky riverbed. That evening on the ride home Odin told me how the bridge frightened him. He said he was afraid that his body would jump off the bridge and he wouldn't be able to stop it.

I was momentarily stunned by the clarity with which he'd described a feeling I've had many times but never put into words because it sounds so...weird. And then Elsa jumped right in and said how she felt the same way but how she wanted to be brave and before I had time to really chew on what he'd said we were talking about the day's adventure once again in all its various details.

"...my body would jump..." In full recognition that his flesh had a will of its own and it occasionally refuses to obey even at great cost to itself. I think of how many times I've stood at some precipice, or on a train platform, or on a chair lift and felt the shiver of fear that goes through me, not that I'll fall, but that I'll jump. I'd never really noticed it before but Odin was right. The fear of falling hits me in a different way - I feel it in between my ears as a kind of dizziness. But this other fear, the whisper of Thanatos, feels more like a shiver, even a tingle, and it warbles below my waist.

Scripture includes this too-rarely considered thought that death is the last enemy to be beaten, and not until later. It's obvious enough, on its face, that people still die so no big revelation there but I'm wondering whether Paul was also talking about something deeper, something creepier. Not only the fact of physical death but also the human impulse toward it.

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