Happy New Year everyone! Mine is off to a shaky start. After spending quality time with family and enjoying the mountains and beaches of my Caribbean homeland, I’m back to the cold reality of winters in the heartland… pondering death and new beginnings. A close family member died unexpectedly the day I came back. My family is feeling sadness and the strange emptiness of losing someone you thought would be around for a long time. This death was preceded by my first experience of an earthquake. It is nerve-wracking not knowing when the next one will strike and whether the building you are sleeping in will withstand it. The prospect of death got me thinking about the after life. (continued below)
If eternity is the nature of our spirit and life is only temporary, then how or when we go should be of no consequence. However, these are the things we often dwell on in the aftermath of death. Take the Haitian earthquake of 2010: over 200,000 casualties. A human tragedy of enormous proportion, but a spiritual one? People who believe in a wrathful God would say what happened to Haiti was punishment. For voodoo? For being poor? It could be argued that living in Haiti under current conditions is the punishment. Seen from the standpoint of spirit, liberation from dire circumstances can be a reward.
It is easier to have a holistic view of death when it affects someone else, but what if those 200,000 people had died in the Dominican Republic? There have been four earthquakes there in the past three weeks (two above 5.0) from three different faults in and around its national territory. After hearing rumors, I noticed the web (English and Spanish) is flooded with predictions of a mega-quake hitting the DR at the beginning of this year. After the rattles of recent days people are starting to wonder if there’s something to these predictions. Massive death in Haiti and recent images of the Japanese quake-tsunami gives pause to the least superstitious among us.
The pastor who spoke of the prophecy says it’s punishment for the bad behavior of the Dominican people and that the big event will usher in a short era of tribulation before the end. If prophecies stopped at prophesying and didn’t go into making judgements they might be more credible. If a vengeful God is going to usher in the apocalypse why start with DR? Really, why? Dominicans are fun-loving people. There are plenty of nations with no shortage of inhospitable grumps. Why not start with them? It so happens Hispaniola lies on several fault lines that make it very quake-prone, even if almost two generations of Dominicans (myself included) had no experience with them. Say that, but don’t tell me God is punishing.
There will be more predictions like this every year. The web is full of sites telling us the world is going to end and every few years, there’s a new reason why. Anyone concerned enough to search online will find customized predictions for their particular country. But ponder this: If souls are eternal, there is no death – even if predictions come to pass, thousands die, and we lose a close relative. Loss hurts. I don’t think you can get around that. So I’ve cried for my close ones, I fear for my close ones and sometimes for myself. But I believe souls are eternal and thus, death couldn’t be a punishment, but it could be a blessing for those who go.