Death at the Heart of Life

‘It’s not that I’m afraid to die, it’s just that I don’t want to be there at the time.’ Woody Allen’s wit is wry and dry and touches a subject at the heart of life. One out of one people die: the ultimate statistic. We can swerve to avoid many things but the only way to cope with death is to face it, go through with it and through it.

Christians believe that in this confrontation with death we are not alone. We can follow in the wake of One who has gone before us and come out the other side, transformed. This following does not just happen only at death, but during our life.

In thinking about this, I imagined a cyclist tucked in behind a colleague, following in his slipstream; a group of people walking behind a leader who has slashed a way through nettles and branches in a wood; a boat cutting through the water, leaving an arrow shape behind it. After meditating on these, I wrote the following prayer:


Lord Jesus Christ,

we follow in your trail,

blazing through life;

we sail in your wake,

surging through death.

We are your body,

you are our Head,

ablaze with life,

awake from the dead.

1 thought on “Death at the Heart of Life”

  1. Hebrews 12:2, but with fresh images (slipstream, trail, wake) and rhyme that lead the reader’s intuition to the participation behind the urgent application. Consideration of Christ as a representative figure does not come easily to all of us. “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tomb bestowing life” (Troparion of Pascha). But without the help of a poem like this, many do not see that the good news about Christ’s victory includes them too. We are finally noticing ‘union with Christ’ in more of the scriptures, and retrieving reflection on the theme from neglected patristic and reformation exemplars. Graham Kings’s meditation helps us– and on the morrow, wise preachers– to make personal Paschal sense of this mystery. Thank you, Graham, for this Easter egg.

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