Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Warren Carroll, Rest in Peace

We buried Warren Carroll today, on the campus, on newly consecrated ground on a bluff overlooking the Shenandoah river, a stone's throw from the building where he taught most of his classes and wrote many of his books. Here, in this beautiful place, his body will await the glory that is to come. And we will be able to remember him, and pray for him. For me it will be a special place to visit on walks in my beautiful valley. It is a poignant thing, to visit the tomb of someone who has been an important influence on your life. It's a point of reference for remembering that the absence of the person does not mean the end of the relationship. We remain united, able to support one another and help one another in the "communion of saints." It's a reminder that death is something that has ultimately been overcome.

A coffin seems so final. It would be easy to look at a grave and think of it as representing the limit that seems to haunt all of reality. "All things come to an end." It seems like an overpowering fact, that flies in the face of our wild hope for eternity. At the very least, it suggests that our hope for fulfillment has nothing to do with human things, and that enduring meaning can only be found in escaping from the oppressiveness of an irredeemable reality.

But we honor the tomb. We know that humanity, and all of reality, is changed by an event that takes us beyond the end of all things. Love is not an unattainable dream. It has clothed itself anew in immortal flesh.

The tomb is not the final expression of human destiny. For we know that the greatest tomb in the world is empty.