Sunday, June 10, 2018

After Two Years, Christina Grimmie Means More Than Ever

June 10 marks two years since the passing of Christina Grimmie. What can I say?

I can't explain why this girl has had and continues to have such a powerful impact on my life. I can't explain it.

Okay, true: she was a great "female singer/songwriter/musician"—it's clear that in more popular forms of contemporary music I appreciate especially artists of this kind. She was a YouTuber. She was a Christian. She was a beautiful young person whose life ended tragically.

It's hardly surprising that I am very moved by her and continue to be interested in her legacy.

It doesn't explain why she has shaken my soul to its very core.

There is something mysterious about all of this: something that is greater than music, greater than audiovisual media, greater than my interests, greater than death...

Though I never met her while she was living in this world, Christina is my friend. Even though I am still shocked, saddened, appalled, and grieved by what happened to her, I cannot deny that she has become more and more of a great and powerful and deeply encouraging friend to me in the past two years.

How is this possible? What am I talking about?

It's true that there are still her videos (where she seems to make the screen disappear and really be-with-you and communicate with you person-to-person). There's all her stuff from Twitter and other social media. There is the new music that has been released (and of course the Christina Grimmie Foundation and the continued presence and generosity of her family).

I cannot look at all these things as just stuff she "left behind," as just stuff-from-the-past. And it's not enough to say that she "seems to be with us, still;" it's not enough to say that it's "as if" she is still "with us."

But I also cannot try to pretend she's "still here" in some fuzzy, mythological, spiritualistic kind of way. There is no "magic" that can be invoked. This can't be some kind of imaginative escape from reality, some "alternative universe" we can conjure up. She's not accessible in any physical way, and there is no denying that her life and activity in this world have come to an end.

There is a "finality" about this fact that, as long as we live in this world, cannot be fully understood. It rightly evokes grief and sorrow that are profound but must not be overwhelming. Our human understanding does not "see," even though it probes and wonders and has obscure hints of things.

I am a Christian, of course. I believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. I can say, "Christina is with Jesus." Indeed, my hope is that many who have gone before me are with Jesus.

But if Christina's life is over, how can she "become more of a friend" to me? Am I just learning from her example? That's part of it, but I'm not sure it explains everything.

Christina died on June 10, 2016. Her life in this world is finished. But what is life? When the life of a person is "finished," it is also completed. The person reaches their fullness; they become "who-they-are" in a complete and irrevocable way.

How could we be satisfied by saying that all the good and beautiful things a person did in this world "live on" but the real person who did these things has ceased to exist? That contradicts our entire sense of the value of being human, of loving, of making sacrifices.

I can't be satisfied with that, not just because I'm a Christian, but because I'm a human being. I myself am a human person. I am seeking the fullness of being a person. Every person is a mystery, living with a purpose, seeking a destiny which includes relationship with other persons. Just because I can't put all this under a microscope doesn't mean it's not real. Personhood is more real than any of the things we measure and dominate in this material world.

The person endures beyond death. But how? We seek understanding, even a little bit, a drop, a sign of some meaning we cannot yet fully grasp.

This is what I am "thinking" as a philosopher (if you will) and in any case as a human being (and I am hardly the only one who has thought about it this way): A person endures in the mystery of his or her real self, and in the relationships deepened, fostered, engendered, and nurtured by his or her actions. The person who says "I" endures. The person who says "I love you" endures in that love-for-you. And as the fruits of their actions unfold, the loving person's heart "opens up" to the awareness of people in the world and becomes more accessible.

The person endures (lives!) in completeness and as radically entrusted to the Mystery beyond death. The person also endures as "remaining-in-relationship" through the love by which they gave themselves to others (a gift now fulfilled and irrevocable). Within this interpersonal relationship, this communion of love, they nurture our hope as we continue the journey of this life.

This is a real and powerful relationship.

And if a person gives his or her self unconditionally and concretely, embracing each other person with an openness to welcoming any person they encounter, and if they live and reach the fulfillment of their life in and through that unconditional love, it's not surprising that people continue to "meet" them and experience their love in a personal way even after their death.

They have become forever "persons-with-open-hearts" and there is room for everyone in the fruition of the love they have given, that continues to unfold in the present world.

I don't know if this makes sense to you all. Does it seem rather abstract when we look at the girl who once described her life as "food, music, and video games, all united and lifted up to Jesus"?

Yes, it does in a certain sense. Perhaps that shows how ironic and beautiful and odd and funny it is that we are friends.

[By the way, I think the descriptive imagery she used to talk about herself, her relationships, and God—in the reference I just noted and in other ways and other contexts—was profound, apt, down-to-earth, and humorous all at once.]

What I want to express above all on this June 10, 2018, two years later, is how incredibly grateful I am for Christina Grimmie, for her life, for her person, for the mysterious way that she is a friend to me and helps me, and for the love with which she gave her self—the love that continues to bear fruit.

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