Much is made of Steve Jobs graduation speech at Stanford. I don’t know why. I thought it was rather cold, even melancholic once I actually got around to reading it. Most of it could be reduced to a Budweiser commercial: “You only go around once in life; grab all the gusto you can get.” But there was this:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

That is all true of course. This comes to me this week having placed within the space of ten months yet a second family member on home medical care, now awaiting the doctor’s “six months, probably less” assessment to reach its conclusion. Someone old getting out of the way; not really as dramatic as Mr. Jobs said. Another has remarked on it from a different angle.

Yet beware, I think, of those who tell us death is only this, or life is only that. Far from “life’s best” invention, death is and remains St. Paul’s “final enemy.” God must say “rise” to defeat it. I’ve always harbored a little uncertainty that he will, yet it is a hope I know, and as St. Paul would remind us, we grasp it only by the certainty of faith.

Articles by Russell E. Saltzman

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