The Word after That

Last week's blog looked at "Last words",  as an 'ego stamp' that impose our views on others, and literally, as the final utterances of the late and great. Tragically last week ended with the news of the death of a friend, expected as the cancer invaded more of his body, but tragic neverless for him, his wife and children. A life cut short and so . . . final. The inevitability of the outcome was made clear to him several months ago, but what followed was truly remarkable. A battle of mind and body against the pain and process of the illness. John has painted and decorated my son's room, our front garden was in full bloom last week with the fruit of his labour, it will be an ongoing memory of his determination and drive, and many others have legacies of his efforts over the last few months. His final goals included seeing his son graduate in Medicine, his daughter reach her 21st, and his wife to have the finances and administration in order - he achieved them all, and more.  Some time ago, I visited a Shaker village in New England.  You may only know of them through their furniture, unless you are a supporter of Bury FC, who share the nickname! They eventually all but died out, but then, with a code of strict celibacy, it's not entirely surprising  there wasn't a great demand for Sunday School teachers as time went on!  Mother Ann Lee, a prominent Shaker, said "Do your work as if you had a thousand years to live, and as if you knew you would die tomorrow"  Wow - Permanent Divine eternity and hope and temporary Human frailty and grief all wrapped up in the same sentence.  I'm not sure that John knew that quote, but I'm certain he lived it in his last few months, perhaps before.  I'm not keen on death - I think it's a bad idea - probably even worse than wasps in the '5 Natural things that are nasty' list that I could so easily put together (baldness and the inexorable link between calories and waist measurement would also be there, oh yes, and Ashley Cole).  But, there ain’t anything more certain for any of us - and then - what next? Please don't populate the comments with Theolobabble with your pet theory - admit it - you don't really know what happens either! It is a mystery - a painful, searing, abyss of a mystery.  Rowan Williams (yes - the Archbeard of Canterbury) once wrote "The cry to God as 'Father' in the New Testament is not a calm acknowledgement of a universal truth about God's abstract fatherhood. it is the Child's cry out of a nightmare.  It is the cry of outrage, fear, shrinking away, when faced with the horror of the 'world' - yet not simply or exclusively protest, but trust as well. 'Abba Father' all things are possible to Thee ..."  Pope John Paul II’s final words were “Let me go to the Father's house”  Maybe our last word isn’t THE Last Word, in faith, maybe there’s a “Word after That”?