What good is reaching for God if beyond here lies nothing? If there is no God, would you be a Christian?
Down every street there's a window
And every window made of glass
We'll keep on lovin' pretty baby
For as long as love will last
Beyond here lies nothin'
But the mountains of the past
My ship is in the harbor
And the sails are spread
Listen to me pretty baby
Lay your hand upon my head
Beyond here lies nothin'
Nothin' done and nothin' said
Beyond Here Lies Nothin' ~ Bob Dylan
These lyrics have been playing in my head this weekend, over and over, echoing the nagging voice inside of me, the inner Dawkins telling me that all of this is some sort of God delusion. What use then is following the way of Heaven and all of this grasping to find God? What if after that final sleep we do just drift away beyond the moon and stars into the darkness of an eternal night?
If nothing lies beyond, prayer is no longer the pleading of a flawed mortal with an all powerful God to descend to our level so that we can ensnare God in our own troubles. Prayer becomes the re-orientation of our inner selves. We concentrate our minds and spirits on those we love, on the fragility of the bonds that hold them up, of the need for compassion. We commit ourselves to transform our world outwardly and our selves inwardly. In prayer, God does not change - we do.
If we do not wake from the final sleep, we cannot close our eyes to the suffering we encounter on this lonely planet. It becomes ever more urgent to transform this world - as it could be, as it should be. We will not have another chance to make the wrongs right and the crooked paths straight.
What then of the cross? If the cross is not about the next life, then the Kingdom of Heaven is already here, it is among us. If nothing lies beyond, then the blood does not wash us in preparation for the new life. The blood and the cross become the final destination to which the signposts of the way point. Live out the Kingdom of Heaven and you will be nailed to a cross. But perhaps in the moment that they finally nail you down, your life will be transformed. In the moment of greatest darkness, you may find the birth of your triumph.
If beyond here lies nothing but the mountains of the past, I still find myself journeying through these pathways, following the footprints of a man that lead inexorably to his death on a cross. As I follow his way I have no idea how I will cross the chasm that separates life from death.