All Saints and Parting Reflections from Steve Jobs
Some recent bookstore browsing provided a glimpse into the newly released biography of Steve Jobs, published just weeks after his death. The extremely private founder and CEO of the ginormous Apple enterprise acted out of character in granting some 40 interview sessions with biographer Walter Isaacson, who has also written heralded works on Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger.
While I never “read ahead” in a mystery or novel, with non-fiction I feel free to scan, pick and choose portions throughout the book at will. Since my bookstore browsing session was brief, I jumped right to the end in order to see how the author would conclude. As expected, he shared Mr. Jobs’ reflections during his final weeks on his own story’s ending. While not known for humility, Jobs lamented in a somewhat self-deprecating way that it’s a pity the world loses people’s wisdom and experience, from which others might benefit, especially when death comes, as it did for him, in what is often called the prime of life. Losing a person of Jobs’ genius and creativity may indeed have deprived the world of future inventions that could prove life-saving and transformative.
Having flirted with reincarnation, as well as Zen Buddhism along his spiritual journey, Jobs mused that death might usher him into another go-around. In the end, concluded the great innovator and entrepreneur, the question dangles. It could simply be, he surmised, that upon death it’s like the switch is turned off and all that was a human being, a life, vanishes into the ether of the universe. Steve Jobs quipped that was perhaps the reason he was always reluctant to put on/off switches on Apple devices!
On the Christian calendar, All Saints Day comes around each November. For some reason, it has become for me almost a more treasured festival than Easter. Perhaps timing has something to do with my response. Heading into the darkest days of winter (which caught us by surprise with an extremely early arrival this year), I am bolstered by All Saints’ powerful promises. As more and more friends, family members and colleagues have moved along into the larger life of God, I cherish feelings of being reconnected as we utter their names and re-call them into the community. As a commentator interviewing “Ghosts of Gettysburg” author Mark Nesbitt mused on National Public Radio Halloween night about the experiences of many in our town, “it’s as if more guests show up for dinner than you invited!” At Communion on All Saints, I have mental images of the unseen hands interspersed among the rest of ours, reaching across the divide from the future life of the Resurrection.
Together with millions of Christian sisters and brothers in every corner of the world, I recite the creeds which declare our belief in “the resurrection of the dead.” I confess I have no clear idea of what that means. Though I have studied all the scriptures that deal with the promised life to come, and pondered the ruminations of multiple theologians on such matters, I come away concluding that it is a mystery. I am clueless about the dimensions or character of the “many mansions” promised by John’s Gospel. Paul’s proclamation about a new spiritual body assures me we need not be preoccupied with the physics and chemistry but can leave such mundane matters in God’s hands. But I am convinced we don’t simply shift into a kind of “hibernate” mode as can our computers, unable to function but readily called back into action by a light touch on the switch, with everything “saved” reappearing just as it was before. I cling fervently to St. Paul’s promise in Romans that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In the end, at least for now, I think the switch is pressed into the off position and the machine shuts down. But there is a divine finger poised nearby, ready to recreate a new heaven and new earth in the blink of an eye. And we and those we love will have a place in God’s future, for which the broad design parameters have already been crafted.
Posted: 11/1/2011 9:40:38 AM
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