Death’s Dominion?


I must confess I’m no expert on the Christian Science perspective on death. I may be way off base here. But there are murmurs to the effect that for Mary Baker Eddy, death shall have no dominion.

I suspect the thought is far from Dylan Thomas’s steely defiance:

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Thomas gives death enormous power, and voices his rebellion.

But what if our spiritual vocation is not to rebel against our inevitable demise in this way.

What if we refuse death its vaunted power to deny our aspiration to to live each moment fully — but not under threat of sure extinction? What if “death has no dominion” because our spiritual trajectory is ever-upward — not at all to be denied by rumors of extinction?

The sense of the Dylan Thomas line — “And death shall have dominion” — is defiance in the face of, or despite, certain death. But if I am spirit rather than body, if I am spirit through and through, who’s to say spirit goes under when “my” body returns to dust?

My body may be buried when it ceases to breath, but spirit may be more, or other than, breath.

Spirit may ascend supreme despite cessation of breath and physical burial.

Put another way, burying “my body” is not burying me anymore than burying my wig and scarf is burying me.

If I am spirit, my spirit is — let’s say, ‘by nature’ — always in upward ascent. My depression, for example, is not my essence anymore than my blue shirt is my essence. Why should my spirit be linked to a passing dark?

Burying my blue shirt is not burying me. I live on despite burial — burial of body or blue shirt.

I am neither my shirt nor my flesh, spiritually speaking. I am undying, inviolate spirit.

In that sense, “death shall have no dominion.”


2 comments on “Death’s Dominion?

  1. garylw says:

    That’s a powerful piece, Ed. I like reading it.

    I hope this finds you well. And let’s talk again one of these days. I’ve been busy lately. I do still get to fiddle with poems. One that I’ve fiddled with lately is the one that’s in my essay for Henry. I have a new version of it in which a couple words change, and the ending is quite different from how it appears in the book. I’ll attach it here for you to see. Sending love, Gary


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