Friday, March 10, 2017

Life and Death, Ashes and Fire

Nine months ago, Christina Grimmie was murdered. Twenty three years ago this Sunday, she was born into this world.

"A time to be born, and a time to die" (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Such a short time. What claim can a drop of water make between the time it sprays up in the wind and the time it falls back into the vast ocean? Or the stick that sparkles in the fire before collapsing into black dust and disappearing into the dark cold earth?

"All is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Still, in all the vast galaxies of dust and fire and ashes there are these tiny specks that call themselves human beings, and that have the audacity to protest against gravity. They fight against the darkness. They refuse to accept their own disappearance. They fight for life, and more... for goodness, beauty, and truth.

Do they have a chance? Do we have a chance?

Let's face it: all our hearts are invested in this wild hope. Humans struggle and dream. They long to win even when all seems lost. They look for help. Indeed, something about the experience of life and its correspondence to the depths of themselves tells them that they must not give up. They must keep hoping, keep seeking.

All through history they have had their hopes, their stories, or (as we see today) their superheroes and their games. They know that it's not just a farce, a delusion--that there is something real about heroism and therefore that it's worth getting up again, summoning the strength, taking risks, being courageous.

The Grimmie family and others who are carrying on Christina's legacy are working hard to arrange for the posthumous release of the significant body of music she made in the last year of her life. Today they also posted a dramatic and fascinating animated video for the song Invisible. Though Christina didn't work on this video herself before her death, it was conceived by those who knew her best, who were closest to her. It was made as a tribute to her spirit and her various interests, style, struggles, and ways of having fun. Click HERE to watch it on her YouTube channel.

Christina loved fantasy genre and was an avid video game player, especially the Legends of Zelda. Not all video games are about gratuitous violence. Some aspire to present the perennial epic human stories in new ways, to dramatize the struggle for the good and against evil. The human question about what makes life worth living cannot be suppressed. We should not be surprised to find it rising up in what we might think are unusual places.

Ecclesiastes, chapter 1, verse 2... in Elvish?
Whatever space is given to human beings to live, they will search for meaning there. Even in the midst of the most intense obscurity and brokenness, the insatiable human thirst for the truth of life--for beauty, freedom, love, goodness, and justice--will assert itself. And with such an enormous and seemingly impossible need, the hope for a hero, a champion, will rise up in the human heart.

Christina Grimmie loved these stories of the battle for the good and the victory of good over evil, and she also loved the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. She sensed both the intensity and the irony of its author's dissatisfaction with the things of the world, the things that pass away, the things that are not enough to satisfy the human heart. She had the verse "All is vanity" tattooed on her right arm in the Elvish script of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Of course, she knew that the stories of heroes were not merely fantasies. She knew that the world was being saved from its own vanities, that history itself was being fashioned into the greatest of all stories, that at the heart of history was a real man who died and rose from the dead.

Ultimately He is the one who summons every human heart to remain in hope.

Two of Christina Grimmie's many posts on Twitter where she witnessed to the hope that shaped everything for her.