For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow Job 8:9
Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away. Psalm 144: 4
(Both verses from the King James Version)
We’ve all heard of the poem, “The Dash” by Linda Ellis; the “dash” being the dash you see on tombstones between the years of the deceased’s birth and death. The poem itself is a very a deep poem that needs be checked out as we ponder our lives here on Earth.
In light of today’s Scriptures and Ellis’s poem, I realized this morning that we as a species have a “dash”. You didn’t think that humankind’s an eternal species now, do you? Our “birth year” started on the plains of Africa over a quarter of a million years ago when modern man came into being, and the human race-Homo Sapiens-was born.
We’re currently in our dash, thousands of years and billions upon billions of people later, we’re still there. But how have we’ve spent our dash-especially in recent generations? Have we been trying to improve our collective lives by loving each other, caring for our environment, and growing into a spiritual species? No, sad to say. We’ve been having wars of conquest, plundering our environment, and creating a have/have not societal hierarchy that serves the few and marginalizes the many. Today, we’re moving at a breakneck pace with our population growth and technological developments that have an impact on our planet and us as a species.
We need to realize that as the Scriptures remind us that we are just a “shadow” in the whole of time; a small “dash” in the 14-billion year history of our universe and planet. We also need to understand that we too have a “death year” (and I’m not talking about 2012 like some are hyping). We have that time when we as a species will be no more. When we arrive at that year depends on how we spend our dash today.
Of course, there are ways we as a species will come to our “death year” that are beyond our control. A number of natural phenomenon: large asteroid, gamma ray burst, massive plate tectonic activities, our Sun novas, etc. Remember the dinosaurs and other past creatures that once ruled the Earth and now are extinct due to natural phenomenon.
However, we could arrive at “death year” at our own hands if we don’t watch out. We still possess plenty of nuclear and biological weapons that could kill us off. We can damage our environment beyond the point of where we can survive. We can create pollutants that will ultimately damage our ability to reproduce and condemn ourselves to a slow species death. Overpopulation can decrease our resources to the place of mass starvation and water scarcity. And in the end, it won’t matter how many technological wonders we’ve accomplished, how much wealth we’ve amassed, or how much collective knowledge we’ve accumulated. It’ll all be for naught.
Or we can come to our “death year” with dignity. Maybe we will evolve out of the picture some hundreds of thousands, or millions of years from now, and bow out gracefully. Or, maybe we’ll take the next big evolutionary leap and shed our mortal bodies-becoming pure thought and energy where we no longer need Earth-thus free to roam the Universe while leaving our planet to the animals to enjoy.
In the final end, when our species returns to God and He/She “eulogizes” our existence here on Earth, what will God say? Will God smile and say “well done” because we matured and lived higher than our calling? Or will God shake His/Her head with sadness and say, “I tried. Man was a cute evolutionary concept”?
It’s up to us as a species how we live this “dash”. We need to live it wisely, for as the Bible says, we’re just a shadow.