By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
James 4:13-14 is a must read for every Christian and non- Christian alike who appreciates the ephemeral nature of life. It is an apt description of the transiency of life.” Go to now, ye that say, To day or morrow we will go into such city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain.
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life?It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishest away”. Verses 15 and 16 admonition humanity not to rely on their strength or wisdom”For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil”.
The above lines do not only emphasise great lessons for Amaka and Promise, the two women whose lives were cut short recently in a ghastly auto- crash that involved one of the vehicles in the governor’s wife’s convoy, but to the entire humanity.
The bell does not only toll Amaka or Promise, just like John Donne postulated”All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated… As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all… No man is an island, entire of itself… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee,” but to all mankind.
The deaths of Promise and Amaka reinforces Swami Sivananda position that” Life is a pilgrimage. The wise man does not rest by the roadside inns. He marches direct to the illimitable domain of eternal bliss, his ultimate destination”. It also reminds us that as pilgrims we are on transit, reinforcing the quote that”life but problems make it long”.
God is all knowing. He knows our end from the beginning. “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’- Isaiah 46:10.
Until the second coming of Christ when the corruptible will assume incorruptible, mortality is part of mankind.All efforts in human history to reverse mortality have been futile. A classical attempt is that of Gilgamesh. In The Epic of Gilgamesh the main character, Gilgamesh, is searching for immortality.
This want is brought about by deep feelings held by Gilgamesh for his dead friend Enkidu. From this, Gilgamesh finds himself being scared of dying. This fear pushes Gilgamesh to search for the power of immortal life, which is believed to be held only by women because of the fact that they can reproduce.
This takes him on a long and tiresome journey to a land where no mortal has gone before. The search by Gligamesh is fueled by the desire to play a part in reproduction. His journey begins at Mount Mashu, where Shamash, the Sun God, who tells him”You will never find the/ life for which you are searching.”
From leaving Shamash, Gilgamesh is sent to see Siduri. Gilgamesh pleads with Siduri not to allow him see death, but Siduri answers, “Gilgamesh, where/ are you hurrying to? You will never find that life for which you are looking.” Once again Gilgamesh hears that what he is looking for does not exist. She tells him to enjoy life to its fullest because that is what a man is there for. That does not satisfy Gilgamesh and he wishes to know where to find Utnapishtim, the only man with eternal life.
Gilgamesh was sent to Urshanabi the ferryman, who will help him cross the sea to Utnapishtim. Gilgamesh, out of spontaneous rage, destroys the stone-giants that live with Urshanabi. He tells him his story, but when he asks for his help, Urshanabi informs him that he has just destroyed the only creatures who can cross the Waters of Death, which are deadly to the touch.
Urshanabi instructs Gilgamesh to cut down 120 trees and fashion them into punting poles. When they reach the island where Utnapishtim lives, Gilgamesh recounts his story, asking him for his help. Utnapishtim reprimands him, declaring that fighting the common fate of humans is futile and diminishes life’s joys.
As these heroines set out in their journey to eternity, let all Abians join hands to bid them a resounding farewell “Warm summer sun, shine kindly here; Warm Southern wind, blow softly here, Green sod above, lie light,light…Good night, dear heart, good night, good night.- Olivia Susan Clemens (1866-1890). ( Daughter of Mark Twain).
The bell has tolled for Amaka and Promise, and we should never send to know whom it tolls, for it tolls for everybody because we are involved in mankind.
For the bereaved families, God will surely grant you the fortitude to bear these irreparable losses.Adieu the worthy daughters of Abia.
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