Where are those who were before us?
Thus, Ubi Sunt asks the ultimate question of our existence as we wander this earth. Like “Carpe Deum,” this medieval term challenges us to live life well but differs in that its focus is on living for eternity rather than today. Specifically, it explores the transience of life, youth, beauty and human achievement.
As “shiver” by coldplay fills the room, I wonder what great empire will replace the power of the United States…it will happen and it may be sooner than we expect. Like the ancient ruins of Rome or the broken symbols of communism, children reading their history textbooks will ask, “where are they now? What happened?”
Or, what about our lives? For our four score and twenty, we are told to sink our teeth into each moment and opportunity, to succeed, to be happy and to be apathetic. Where we are going is kept with in the realm of this life and the next is talk we reserve for funerals. That person is in “a better place” but one wonders what assurance everyone has that this is a definite truth.
It becomes increasingly difficult with our modern conveniences to really think about all we are lacking. We have every gadget imaginable and can fulfill any lust or desire with the sweep of plastic, click of the remote or cyberspace search. We might say, “I’m starving” but have no idea what true hunger really is or “I need that” when we really can not comprehend true necessity.
Is it crazy of me to think that we all really want to know what this life is really all about and where we’re going? We may never know all the answers but when it comes to the most important questions or concerns, jokes about hanging with Elvis or using spf 5,000 in the flames only go so far.
With the way we indulge ourselves on this earth much of the time, I wonder why we think that we deserve an eternity of living it up. Even believing there is nothing gives us a free ticket to do whatever we want if nothing is to follow.
I believe the world’s pleasures only last a while and are fleeting yet I hold on to them like a safety net. I have romantic notions of what I want my legacy to be but I forget that the most important legacy I could leave would be a life lived with eternity and specifically heaven in mind. All that I have been given in this life will then be good but in its context. I will not have to fear if it all disappeared in a second. God gives and takes away but with an eternal perspective, I will believe, despite circumstances, that the best is yet to come.
It may seem difficult to get excited about heaven or worried about hell. I think our perspectives are so limited that we can not fathom that parties, money, sex, etc can be good but there is so much better. I think of it as one might think before seeing the Swiss Alps for the first time. In our imagination, they might seem beautiful but in real life, they are beyond description. Accordingly, I think of hell as the worst kind of suffering imaginable and then some. It’s not just about physical suffering. It’s about being out of the presence of God, who is part of every man’s life on this earth whether they acknowledge it or not. Every good thing on this earth is from His hands and every bit of pain as well. We can choose to blame Him or thank Him but it doesn’t change who He is and the reasons He acts, which are always purposeful.
We can deny heaven and hell, seek to defy death but it is our responsibility to know where we’re going after this life. It can change the course of our lives and it can give others either a feeling of peace or of unrest when we are gone. Some say we’ll become animals, others say our spirits will become one with nature, and many believe a party to rival all parties awaits. So, What do you think?