Children, Our Immortality
I should be asleep right now.
In truth, this is the collective reality which draws all of my blogging experiences together: I write when I should be doing something else. When there is actually time to blog, there is nothing to talk about. When there is something to talk about, there are things to do!
At any rate, the thing which sparked off my thoughts this time was the movie “Resistance.” I would describe this as “An excellent movie on a horrendous subject.” The plot is based on the true events of three farming brothers who formed a community of fellow Jews who survived for over two years in the forests of Europe. In the end, 1200 Jews survived through their efforts.
What is truly rending about this movie is the portrayal of the simple reality that thousands upon thousands of women and children were killed in only a few months. That phrase rolls off the lips easily – women and children. The beauty of this movie (if it could be called “beauty”) is that it did not allow one to dismiss easily the terrible reality of the massacre of entire families. In one gripping scene, a man learns that his wife and child have died. It is impossible to describe in words the emotion of that moment. It was like the insides of his soul were violently ripped out – cut off from his roots, withering, imploding and dying, the man seemed to just crumple at the news.
What a horrible reality that would be – to be deprived of both wife and child in a single day!
In Genesis 3, God passes sentence on the human race due to sin. This curse culminates in the pronouncement of death on us all. Immediately, Adam turns to his wife and says, “You will now be called ‘Eve,’ for you are the bearer of life.” In that instant, as the first man and woman saw their own lives cut short, they realized immediately that immortality would lie in something other – although, not completely separate from – themselves.
Bearing children is something which God created humanity to do before the fall: when death enters the picture, however, children not only become our joy, but now also our immortality.
Although I wouldn’t recommend it due to its violence, the movie “Children of Men” dramatically illustrates this point by asking, “what would happen if children were taken away from humanity?” In this movie, women the world over are suddenly stricken with barrenness. Nobody knows why. Now, the youngest child in the world is well over 18, and no new pregnancies are occurring.
Tell me, what do you think would happen to our heads if this were to occur?
In the movie, the world falls into apocalypse. Suddenly, people just don’t care. Life has no meaning. Society falls apart. Masses revolt and riot, governments fall. All is chaos, death, and grinding meaninglessness.
The irony of it all is, of course, nothing has changed in a sense. People are just as healthy as they once were. There is just as much food, just as many resources, just as many toys, gadgets and trinkets to occupy one’s time. So why is it that meaninglessness pervades and destroys the human existence?
In Ecclesiastes, the author writes that God has “Written eternity within our hearts.” This is a profound truth, which ties all of humanity together – we are all grasping for immortality. From primitive times, people sought to leave handprints, statues, and monuments to outlive them. More recently, people sought for a name in history – to give a great gift, or leave a great scar on the world, in order to be remembered. From the greatest to the smallest of us, we all quietly rebel against the idea that our death will be the end of us. Our memory will go on. We will be honoured by the living, we will be remembered. We will endure. We will survive. Our name will never die.
Of course this is an illusion – but it is an illusion which we cling to desperately. Without it, we would go absolutely insane. Even if we were told we would live 100 years, we would feel this time was a short, shallow life if that were truly to be the end.
And here is the connection: we need children – our children, or the children of others – to fill in this void. Without the next generation, there can be no enduring human race. This feeling is amplified to an extreme degree when you have children of your own: now it is not just your memory, but (in a sense) a part of you which will live on in your children.
The story is told of a missionary in china who was working hard to convert an old farming woman. Using strategies that had worked in the West, he asked her, “But woman – don’t you fear death?” Her response was stunning: “Young man, I hold on to the ancestors with one hand, and I hold on to my children with the other. It is so that in a way, I shall never die.”
Before I had a child, I would not have grasped any of this. Now, I feel as though I have become a part of a living thing – an organism, which is “humanity.” The branches and roots which have given me life have spread through me and given life to another, who will carry on after me. In Korban and his children, I will live on, I will touch the world, I will endure, I will be remembered.
In the bodies, memories and lives of my children, I will never die.
And, not surprisingly, the true and ultimate source of eternal life comes from a child, born of a woman: in salvation, as in life, “A child shall lead them.”
In dying death, a race is doomed
In children, laughing, a face renewed
In age, decaying, flame grows dim
In youth, renewing, flames within
A cherished spark, a fragile dream
The one from two, enduring stream
In you is life, thou favoured one
Life giving woman, redeeming Son.