“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
This morning, I woke to the news of Alan Rickman’s passing. Honestly, David Bowie’s passing didn’t shock me as much because, well, I wasn’t as connected to the man’s work. But Alan Rickman.
This man was a phenomenal actor and was partly responsible for creating one of the stories most famous stories, and one of the stories closest to my heart: Harry Potter. I’d also had the opportunity to see him perform in Love Actually, another heart-wrenching tale that enraptured me from the start with its angst and its sense of yearning for the things that have yet to be found.
As with Christopher Lee’s passing, I wanted Alan’s to be a rumor. First thing this morning, I saw a friend’s status – it was a quote from Emma Thompson, a tribute to Rickman.
Alan was my friend and so this is hard to write because I have just kissed him goodbye.
What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humour, intelligence, wisdom and kindness. His capacity to fell you with a look or lift you with a word. The intransigence which made him the great artist he was—his ineffable and cynical wit, the clarity with which he saw most things, including me, and the fact that he never spared me the view. I learned a lot from him.
He was the finest of actors and directors. I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do with his face next. I consider myself hugely privileged to have worked with him so many times and to have been directed by him.
He was the ultimate ally. In life, art and politics. I trusted him absolutely.
He was, above all things, a rare and unique human being and we shall not see his like again.
I had yet to read the dozens of news headlines about his death. I had yet to see the dozens of statuses. I didn’t want it to be true. “Why?” I ask myself, even now. “Why do I care this much about a man I’ve never met?”
I think there’s two reasons.
1) The stories he told and the way he told them changed my life. The Harry Potter characters were friends to me when I had none. They lifted my spirits when I was depressed. And, yes, even Snape.
2) There is so much death going around right now. A few days ago, I woke only to learn that my Great-Grandmother’s heart had stopped. She’d been rushed to the ICU and they got it restarted, but she is weak right now. She’s awake and responsive, but weak. And even though she survived, that doesn’t mean she almost didn’t. Death almost took her – and it would have, if not for the prayers of her family and those whose lives she touched with her testimony.
A few days before this, a dear family friend passed away because of cancer. She was a phenomenal woman of God, whose heart was open to the things of the Lord. She was a prayer warrior and a lionheart ’til the very end. I knew her my entire life. She came to the conferences that my home church hosted bi-annually. Often, she delivered powerful words – of encouragement, instruction, warning. When I got the news, my first thought was, “Who will rise to take her place?” Her death didn’t really hit me until the same day I got the news about my great-grandmother. I was at work when it struck me. I thought I might cry right then and there, but I didn’t.
And then, of course, David Bowie passed. Though I have no emotional attachment to the man, he served as a reminder of the shortness of life.
You know, I think it’s interesting that whenever someone passes away – even someone we don’t know – we like to fill our thoughts and our Facebook feeds with messages of peace toward whomever has passed. “RIP,” we say. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. It does, however, spark some thought in me.
How can someone who, seemingly, has never known the Lord truly rest in peace? How can David Bowie, or Christopher Lee, or Alan Rickman truly rest in peace when, by all appearances, they’ve had no fruitful relationship with Christ, the Savior of the world?
You see, life is short and the reality is that the vast majority of people around us are going to hell. I wonder, sometimes, if believers ever think about this. Do we understand the weight on our shoulders – this burden of souls? Or are we satisfied with wishing them peace posthumous?
My hope is that Bowie, Lee, and Rickman all had a chance to find Peace before their passing. And not this superficial peace so many talk of – the Prince of Peace. For only He can offer true rest.
The hope that we as believers have is that, one day, we will stand face-to-face before our Savior and King and He will wipe away every sorrow and pain and He will cause the old to pass away. This is what we have waiting for us. But what of those who don’t know Peace? As believers, it is our purpose and our right in this life to introduce them to Peace and Love and Grace and Glory – our God, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Elohim, Jehovah Shalom.
We have the God-given authority to go into the world and bring Peace. Do we dare keep Him to ourselves?