Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In a room with death

When I was ten years old in 1957, in the days before Roger Ebert, my main source of movie reviews was Parents Magazine. I remember distinctly when The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman first came out, they featured a photo of the Knight, played by Max von Sydow, playing chess with Death. As a chess player I was fascinated to see the movie, although it was not until perhaps ten years later that I had the opportunity to do so. (It of course became one of my favorite movies.)

In my imaginings now, I am in a room with Death, although not the black-garbed archetypal figure; and we are not playing chess. But we are much closer than is customary for either one of us. Death is not personified at all; it is more like a presence, one that is saying "Wake up!" And sends a bit of a chill all over the body to reinforce that message. But almost immediately the chill is replaced by a solar warmth emanating from the heart. And the heat and the light from that mollifies the mind and is in itself the awakening that is spoken of. Fear is never a factor. If one is to be afraid of anything, it would be life.

But why be afraid of that either? One is here and charged with all kinds of projects and plans. There are opportunities. As long as life itself is propelling us, we may as well go with the flow. And if Death mates us in the end, well, thank God for that. Well met, well mated, old friend.