Growing up when I did, a teenager in the early '80s, I was exposed to a lot of video games. I even have a job testing video games for a few years before I went on my mission. I kind of kicked the habit while on my mission and ever since I've found most video games interesting from an outside observe stand point rather than from a participant. I just don't find them as interesting as I used to. There is a common theme among most games that I find a little depressing. The goal of most games seems to be simply avoiding death. In fact nearly every game ends by showing your character explode, melt or other symbol of death. Even the best player of the coolest game out there just manages to evade death longer than an average player. On top of that the theme that prolonging your own life requires you to kill most everything else that moves on the screen and I just haven't found most video games too enjoyable.
I was listening to a podcast today on my lunch walk. Krista Tippets was interviewing a chaplain and game warden for the state of Maine. Her job called for her minister to people who had just had a family member get lost or was missing in the Maine wilderness. She was dealing with people who were at the "end of the game". I encourage you to listen to the podcast. I found her perspective very insightful.
One of the most profound insights she had had to do with postponing death. She said that our lives have to mean more than simply postponing death. If our goal is just postponing death then any victory is only temporary. Eventually death will win. Back to my video game analog: if the only goal of the game is to stay alive longer the only victory you could claim is a little more mileage on your quarter. Surely our lives are worth more than that.
For her the victory comes in learning to love each other. In her situation it is frequently all about the hundreds of people who get together to help look for the missing child in the woods. That outpouring of love is the goal. If you have that as the goal then no matter what the outcome of the search there is a victory and in her eyes, that is where the miracle is. Everyone will have tragic event in their lives. What makes us divine is that we refuse to let each other go through them alone.
She ends her interview by describing an event around ten years ago. An elderly woman with Alzheimer’s had wandered into the woods. Thousands of people from the local community gathered together to help in the search. The lady's son was deeply moved by the outpouring of love for his mother and expressed that "surely this was the real miracle." She stopped her story there and did not even say if the woman was found or not. When pressed she said, "well this was ten years ago and she was already old and sick." The insinuation here was that she is dead now, but did not elaborate on the outcome of the search. Did she die then or not? Her point was to identify the miracle and not take away the focus onto looking at what happened after the miracle. We all die. It's what we do in the mean time that matters. Did we learn to love each other like we're supposed to, or not?
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