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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'The readiness is all'

Do we have the courage to say now is the time to move on into heaven?

Shakespeare's Hamlet said it best about death: "If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all" (Act 5, Scene 2). Physically nobody lives forever. Too many of our friends and relatives leave us to acknowledge anything but.

Matthews is a member of Muhlenberg
Matthews and his wife, Irene.


Most of us try to bury deep in our unconscious minds the certainty that we as individuals will cease to exist. Psychologists tell us it's our primal fear—a fear that accompanies us through life, one against which we erect all sorts of escapes. These include today's favorite, the one celebrated by AARP: try, as poet John Keats put it, to stay "forever panting and forever young." A serious life is more than running a marathon at 80.


Some people try to "eat, drink and be merry." Others insist that we live forever only so long as those who knew us on earth remember us. This is why poets yearn for their poems to be read in the years to come.


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