I miss him. He was my friend.  He is dead.    I was a bit surprised to receive the call.   I was not his Pastor.   He was a member of a church which doesn’t much care for clergy from other traditions.    The caller asked me to officiate at his funeral.  I agreed.

Elmo (not his real name) had committed suicide.  In his note he described his anguish and requested that I officiate.    Elmo had “lost everything.”   His wife had left him,   He felt his children did not think about him.   His fine home in a prestigious suburb was no more.  His business was lost.    He had no money and had to depend upon public welfare. He was ill with not one, but two diseases from which people do not recover—only keep in remission.  Death, he thought was the only way out.

I cannot and do not condemn Elmo.  He was miserable.  But, I was deeply sorry that the walls had closed in on him so grimly that he saw no exit.    I was sorry that he hurt so much and was so depressed.  He had missed a possibility.

The central point of the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is that evil, pain, negative events need not be the ultimate winner; but, that there is a kind of victory over those things. That victory brings light and joy in a new dimension.

Sanjay Gupta is known to most people as a TV personality.   To others he is known as a Professor of Neurosurgery at Emory University Medical School.    In CHEATING DEATH, a book Gupta published a couple of years ago, he criticizes orthodox medical treatment for many situations in which it appears a patient cannot live.  He credits Dr, Raymond Moody, who, a generation ago, presented many cases of persons with near death experiences, for opening new lines of study on the meanings of life and death.

We live in a highly materialistic age in which money and prestige are thought to be THE keys to happiness.  Money and prestige (or respect) are valuables.,….but not the ONLY valuables.   As we develop our capacities to meditate, to open ourselves to the Godly Spirit, and allow that divine love to flow through us, our perspectives greatly increase and ever fewer things can get us down.

Each  of us has the right and the ability to allow the Joy of Christ to fill us, and make us happy no matter what our circumstances.

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