Holy Dying

The Rt. Rev. Jeremy Taylor

The 17th century Anglican bishop and writer Jeremy Taylor wrote what can be called a holistic reflection on Christian life and death.  In “Holy Living, Holy Dying,” Taylor is unashamed to speak openly of life’s mean brevity and the myriad of chance circumstances that lead to death.  Here is one of my favorite lines from “Holy Dying:”

As our life is very short, so it is very miserable; and therefore it is well it is short.

To put it in our language: It’s a good thing life is short because life is miserable.

Taylor did not have what we would call “a happy life.”  Embroiled in the political machinations of the day, he was imprisoned twice for his religious affiliation and buried a number of his children.  It stands on reason that a political prisoner who outlives his children must live a miserable life.

But there is a profound, albeit latent, sense of joy throughout Taylor’s works.  That joy is expressed in Christ.  Taylor understood that his problems were not the end of the world.  Rather, the end of the world is actually the re-creation of all things when God will give new life and new form to those things which had grown old and decayed.

It’s not the end of the world to lose a child, a parent, a friend.  It’s not even the end of the world when our short and miserable lives are concluded.  The end of the world is a new dawn, a bright beginning with a God who dares to make all things new.

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