SCARET OF DYING
Mary Trumbull Slosson, whose quaint and profound folktales give us a “glimpse of Joy beyond the walls of the world,” writes about a little boy that was “scaret of dying.”
Once there was a boy that was dreadful scaret o’ dyin’. Some folks is that way, you know; they ain’t never done it to know how it feels, and they’re scaret. And this boy was that way. He wa’n’t very rugged, his health was sort o’ slim, and mebbe that made him think about sech things more. ‘Tany rate, he was terr’ble scaret o’ dyin’. ‘Twas a long time ago this was,—the times when posies and creaturs could talk so’s folks could know what they was sayin’.
And one day, as this boy, his name was Reuben,—I forget his other name, —as Reuben was settin’ under a tree, an ellum tree, cryin’, he heerd a little, little bit of a voice,—not squeaky, you know, but small and thin and soft like, —and he see ‘t was a posy talkin’. ‘T was one o’ them posies they call Benjamins, with three-cornered whitey blowths with a mite o’ pink on ‘em, and it talked in a kind o’ pinky-white voice, and it says, “What you cryin’ for, Reuben? “And he says, “‘Cause I’m scaret o’ dyin’,” says he; “I‘m dreadful scaret o’ dyin’.” Well, what do you think? That posy jest laughed, the most cur’us little pinky-white laugh ‘t was,—and it says, the Benjamin says: “Dyin’! Scaret o’ dyin’? Why, I die myself every single year o’ my life.” “Die yourself ! “says Reuben “You ‘re foolin’; you ‘re alive this minute.” “‘Course I be,” says the Benjamin; “but that ‘s neither here nor there,—I’ve died every year sence I can remember.” “Don’t it hurt? “says the boy. “No, it don’t,” says the posy; “it ‘s real nice. You see, you get kind o’ tired a-holdin’ up your head straight and lookin’ peart and wide awake, and tired o’ the sun shinin’ so hot, and the winds blowin’ you to pieces, and the bees a-takin’ your honey. So it’s nice to feel sleepy and kind o’ hang your head down, and get sleepier and sleepier, and then find you ‘re droppin’ off. Then you wake up jest ‘t the nicest time o’ year, and come up and look ‘round, and—why, I like to die, I do.” But someways that didn’t help Reuben much as you ‘d think. “I ain’t a posy,” he think to himself, “and mebbe I wouldn’t come up.”
April showers bring May flowers; they also bring us the stirring of hope. Spring “posies, trees and creaturs” are hints of heaven, for God has planned it that way. But spring alone is not enough. It may only leave us with Reuben’s worry: “I ain’t a posy and mebbe I wouldn’t come up.”
Spring’s hope could be an illusion, which is why T. S. Eliot, in his pre–Christian days, thought April was “the cruelest month.”
There is a truer word: Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25,26).
Who said this? One who rose from the grave. It’s one thing to make such a bold assertion; it’s another to back it up—and back it up Jesus did by rising from the dead, “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).
“If you believe that the Son of God died and rose again,” writes George MacDonald, “your whole future is full of the dawn of eternal morning, coming up beyond the hills of life, and full of such hope as the highest imagination for the poet has not a glimmer yet.”
The Son of God died and rose again, and his resurrection is the guarantee that God will bring us up and out of the ground. A thinking, feeling, remembering, recognizable part of us will live forever.
Living forever means living out the thought of eternity that God has placed in our hearts; meeting one’s loved ones lost through separating death; living in a world without blood, sweat and tears; seeing our Lord who loves us so much he gave everything he had to unite us to him forever.
But there’s another meaning I see: since we go around twice we can live in broken and ruined bodies for time; we can endure poverty and hardship for awhile; we can face loneliness, heartache and pain for a season. We don’t have to have it all on this earth. There is a second birth.