Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Only Boxes

From Blog09

They are boxes, only boxes,
Wood and nails and nothing more,
But they make a grown man shudder
With a deep chill from his core.

They are boxes, only boxes,
But they're narrow, hard and cold--
And his joints are getting stiffer
And his face is growing old.

They are boxes, only boxes.
This he says with widened eyes--
And he sees now with a shudder
That the one is just his size.

They are boxes, only boxes,
But they take away his breath
As they interrupt his living
With a frigid thought of death.

They are boxes, only boxes,
Wood and nails and nothing more,
But they make a grown man shudder:
Is one destined for his door? is appointed for people to die once--and after this, judgment.

--Hebrews 9:27, HCSB

Poem and photo ©2009 James L. Swindle


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Interesting photo. I wonder where it was taken.

I think about death a lot, every day in fact, every morning as I wake up, because the first words out of my mouth (or in my mind) are a spontaneous, "Thank you, Lord, for not destroying me in my sins, and for giving me yet another day…" in which to repent, in which to follow Your commandments, in which to love my neighbor, the list continues a little differently every morning.

I can remember mornings, too, when in the weakness or sorrow of my soul, I have prayed, "Lord, why did You wake me up again this morning, why did You give me life for yet another day? I want to go home to You, to You who are the only one who loves mankind, to You who are the only one who loves me…"

The last time I prayed that way, maybe six or seven months ago, complaining like Jonah that I had no reason to keep living, His answer to me for why He was giving me another day was, "You have a reason to keep on living. I want you to keep My commandments."

Since that morning I haven't let despondency of soul affect my thanks again, because even if I get close to it, I just remember His word to me, "I want you to keep My commandments."

But I still think alot about death and wonder if I will go suddenly in the midst of health, or if I will linger on with sickness and suffering. Obviously, I would prefer the first option, but if it comes to the second, I have His Word to support me.

Orthodox Christians in the old country (Europe, mainly Russia) often purchase and store their coffin in an attic or cellar so that there won't be a problem when they die. That is so deeply impressed on me that I have all my life had dreams of having coffins in the basement. My own hope, if I have a choice, is to be buried simply in a shroud without a box, and out in the wilderness somewhere. That is, if I die before the Lord comes.

Jim Swindle said...

Thanks, Romanós, for your thoughts. The photo was taken at a tourist attraction, Old Tucson, AZ.

If I die before the Lord's return, my preference would be the simplest, most inexpensive clean casket available. I'd prefer prompt burial followed a few days later by a memorial service. However, that's far from the American tradition, so I don't really expect all of it to happen exactly as I'd prefer. Besides, as my Dad used to remind me, funerals are for the living.

ambersun said...

Hi again

What a wonderful post!

I used to plead for death when I was experiencing severe mental illness.

Now I plead for life and I am scared of death as I do not trust God enough to let me go properly.

God Bless


Jim Swindle said...

Thanks, Amber, for your honesty. I have a confession to make: When I wrote this, I was really thinking of other people's thoughts of death, more than of my own. Really, death isn't something for us as Christians to fear, though the process of dying can be a huge pain (literally), with various ailments. We should have a healthy respect for death as our enemy, but can know that if we are truly born into the Lord's kingdom, death won't have any grip on us. May the Lord give you genuine faith (not at all saying that you don't already have it), and may he then give you full assurance of that faith.

See the following passages, if you wish.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
1 Corinthians 15:23
Hebrews 10:22 & 11:1

Thanks for stopping by.