Friday, October 17, 2008

The Weight of the Dead

I have come to realize that much of the baggage that we carry around, the things we subject ourselves to, the things we think we should be feeling, are given to us by those who are either years gone from our lives or dead.

If I look in my own life, at behaviors I have, of things that I do in reaction to stimuli that occur, I realize that in many cases I am doing them to please (or avoid) a reaction that occurred long ago - or worse, I am doing it on behalf of someone else, either not physically present (and hasn't been for years) or dead.

An example: I am not a person that enjoys confrontation - to the point that I will not confront even in matters that need to be confronted about. Why? Because in confrontations, I feel that they are attacking me, not the concept or idea I am confronting. Where did this come from? I don't really know. However, like much of the the other things we bear, it can become crippling.

I read somewhere (honestly, I think it was in a scifi/fantasy book from a Dwarf) that "You cannot bear the weight of the dead" meaning that one cannot carry the past of others with us. If anyone suggested that we carry around the bodies of those that had died, what a strange proposition that would be: backs bent beneath rotting corpses, as we drag them around on our daily rounds. Yet non-corporally, this is exactly what we do.

As Christians I think this can be especially difficult, as we have our new life in Christ to live, yet at the same time we are carrying about in this body of sin, with its desire and passions - which, though crucified and dead, can still rise up to tempt us. Have you ever committed a sin, even though it was not really pleasurable, simply on the strength of memories of how good it used to feel to engage in wrath, immorality, drunkenness, or gossip? Are you pleasing a master which no longer has power? In another way, you are bearing the weight of the dead.

The problem is, the dead don't - and can't- forgive. Only the living Christ offers that. And the dead, being non-communicative, can be harsh and driving taskmasters, much like sin, because you can never please them - or it.

What attitudes, opinions, and reactions are you engaging in today that are a result of someone or something that is no longer relevant? How long will you bear the weight of the dead?

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