Death.

It seems a shame that a life has to end. Why did God invent death? Why can’t we just go on living forever?

A lot of people think we do. They’re wrong. Death is the end. (The Bible even says this. “To dust we shall return…”)

But that doesn’t preclude the possibility that death is also the beginning. Either way, it’s something to ponder, not something to answer.

If you’ve lost someone, the seemingly innate response is to act like they’ve gone somewhere else, someWHERE. This isn’t based on hard fact or faith – but on instinct. It’s also worth saying that it isn’t based on superstition, for superstition is defined as “a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge”. In fact, innate statements of continued life in a deceased love one are based on some kind of strange reason – “if so and so isn’t here any more, then they must be somewhere else”.

This assumes that “personhood” is something that lasts, something that continues beyond someone’s mortality. And indeed it is – you can think of a person, you can see the effect of their actions, and you can yearn for their presence – still mysteriously and paradoxically eluding and lingering around you – long after they’re gone.

The brute fact of death is neither here nor there, and I am every moment more convinced that it is dying more than death that is the difficulty. Everyone dies. But not everyone dies well.

How does one die truthfully and well? (If I were able, I would quote the entire last chapter of Richard Holloway’s Looking In The Distance, but I’ll have to stick with my own thoughts.)

There are examples all around us. Some of us die in love, some in faith, and some even in laughter – God, we hope this forourselves.

But we die in the place we lived – this earth. Our earthly lives are not made up of paradisiacal perfections, but of graspings for an infinite surface to rest our cold, lonely heads on when the day arrives. (“Every living creature on this earth dies alone”, says Grandma Death in the film Donnie Darko.)

Perhaps the only noble and holy death is a martyr’s, a giving at the last. But these are particularly hard to choreograph, and even harder must the will of the survivors be to testify readily and persistently, not least in both turbulent and apolitical moments.

In total, our lives must find a somewhere, a someplace, a someone to try to share these moments with. Usually, these are circumstantial, but it is just that opponent measure of choice and free will that makes finding our home all the more intriguing.

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Mum.

She was great.

“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.E.M. Forster

Truth, alone.

“I worship God as Truth only. I have not yet found Him, but I am seeking after Him. I am prepared to sacrifice the things dearest to me in pursuit of this quest. Even if the sacrifice demanded my very life, I hope I may be prepared to give it.” Mohandas Gandhi

The God of alone, the God we do not know, is Truth, and nothing else.

Why Truth? Why a capital letter?

Truth, it seems to me, hides behind every value, ideal and search that we partake in – and it is the basis of every value, ideal and search.

If we look for love, we will never find it if we do not first know truth about love – its character. If a man stays with a woman for his entire life and then tells her on her death bed that he never loved her, then we can clearly see that truth is a basis for love.

If we look for peace, we will never find it until we see that the feeling of peace for the individual is not the fullest picture, and won’t satisfy us. But if we recognise that peace is about absence of war, communal understanding between people, and international relations, and much more besides – i.e. the greatest breadth of understanding of the word – we will see that the truth of peace is what we are striving for, not just the value or ideal itself.

Why the capital letter? Because Truth is hidden behind truth and truths. It is unknown, but desired.

It is Truth which is the vast ocean on which we cannot walk – not yet. It is unpatriotised, unconquered and is a fulfilment of wonder that we can’t encapsulate, but long for as our home.

It is, presently, merely truth and truths (with a small “t”) that we seek, like we seek love, grace, peace. Each of these is a state that fills up a continent – the commonwealth of love, the nation of grace, the republic of peace. None of them is granted, but is an ideal that we seek. Beyond that ideal is the continent with that one shared value – truth. Yet, beyond all the landmass of truth – all the practical, pragmatic steps we take – lies that great ocean named Truth.

Some deny the reality of Truth because they can’t, don’t or won’t believe that walking on it is a possibility, or they find that the grand scheme of the continent of truth and truths is enough for them. This, I would perhaps controversially conjecture, is enough. To not mince words, not believing in an objective Truth, or an objective God, does not mean you are in conflict with the universe or with reality. But, if you can stomach it, the appreciation of a grand, over-arching position on Truth gives, in my eyes,  a principled reason for action – practical, concrete action in this world – and a greater sense of the potential for change than simply seeing a problem and wanting a solution.

Of course, the countries that we DO know, that we each strive for, to a greater or lesser extent, in our day to day living, are varied and essential to focus on.

Indeed, the small “t” of truth, the sovereign nation of truth, is the first to which I turn.

Where do we start to seek the truth today?