As we get older our bodies sag and tighten, but there seem to be psychological -alterations as well. In my case, a rather surprising tightening is a tendency to suffer from claustrophobic feelings.
As a kid I squeezed my body into minute spaces for Hide and Seek, and as a teenager I’d cram myself into the back of a two-door car with three or four others if it meant getting a free ride to the pub. Recently, though, for the first time in years, I was squashed into the rear seat of a tiny car, the large, looming back of a fellow-traveller in front of me, an impassable barrier to the passenger door. Awful pictures filled my mind.
We’d crash. The car would burn. I’d be sandwiched between pieces of twisted metal, unable to escape because the lifeless bulk of my fellow-passenger was blocking the way. I started to sweat and breathe heavily. It was terrifying.
I’m not getting in the back of a two-door car again.
It’s the same with lifts. I was in a small a few months ago in Holland. It was about the size of a large coffin. The thing stopped between two floors and the light went out. For one awful moment I thought I was going to start screaming and kicking against the walls and the door, but, thank God, it started again and the light came back on. I used the stairs for the rest of my stay.
I’m telling you all this to help explain why the resurrection of Jesus is so important to me. Approaching my mid-fifties, I love life, but spectres of old-age, disablement, death keep poking their heads up and grinning at me from unexpected corners like targets in a shooting gallery, I really do rejoice that I’m not trapped in some pathetic little cycle beginning with birth and ending with death and oblivion or separation from God. If I thought the whole complex, beautiful, tragic thing was going to end in dumbness or darkness it would be like – well, a bit like being in the car or the lift.
My belief is that the Son of God has done the thing that sets me - us - free from a doom laden destiny and allows us to go home. Life will go on. There’ll be love, laughter, a meeting of the eyes and the sweet, sweet taste of sparkling spring mornings. Not a hint of religion, nor a trace of narrowness, and as C.S. Lewis so famously said, there’ll be a lot of surprises.