Death and Life

In excavating a poem I was looking for today, I re-encountered one I had filed written by Goethe. I was struck again by the last stanza of his poem called “Holy Longing.” This poem addressed me profoundly at a time when I felt I was suffering my own death, yet still I lived. It gave me unspeakable perspective and solace. The last stanza:

And so, as long as you haven’t experienced
This: to die and so to grow,
You are only a troubled guest
On the dark earth.

On comes winter now. All that was blooming and glorious dies and falls into the soil for a long cold incubation. And spring will arrive. On comes our own death now humanly and psychologically as we move into winter. Something of the psyche joins season to die, to fall into the earth, to decompose and get ready to re-seed life in the spring. Death makes life. Life makes death. Those who allow for death know life. Those who avoid and suppress it are “troubled guests on the dark earth.”

The story of Jesus says this. Don’t believe in death as we think of it, as an ending. Death brings resurrection.


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