The Battle of Little Big Horn (Custer's Last Stand)
Big Horn County, Montana
You still might be bloated from Halloween candy. I recently heard that next to Christmas, Halloween has the highest level of "holiday" consumer spending. So in the shadow of Halloween (and the hope of All Saints Day - Nov. 1st) allow me to be morbid.
I recently returned from a hunting trip to southeastern Montana. While I spent my childhood in a rural setting, I've been urbanized for the last 17 years. Engaging a wide open and isolated land reminded me of life's raw realities. Whenever humans cluster in cities, we tend to domesticate death. We insulate mortality with health care and safety regulations. We distract ourselves from death's severity with entertaining distractions and bustling busyness.
The proximity of mortality is heightened in isolated land. A Montana rancher lives with death's reality every day. You cannot escape the fact that death comes without discrimination. There are the bare bones of a calf devoured by coyotes. There is the abandoned and dilapidated shack that housed people three generations ago. There is physical danger all around. The bull that kicks in the corral. The rattlesnake in the bush. The increased danger of a flat tire miles from help with no cell service and cold night approaching. On the frontier, death is not hidden and it's always a step away.
As a pastor in a city, I see death domesticated all the time. It's not that death doesn't exist. It's that we veil and sanitize it. The hospital is clean and shiny. The funeral home is warm and inviting. Mortality is trivialized in gratuitous video games, crime shows, and silly Halloween costumes. Its stark finality is avoided.
"The cemetery is a reassessment of priorities." I bear the conviction that resurrection is a greater reality that death's finality. So I am not deterred by the cemetery or the the abandoned homestead. They remind me that I am limited.
When death is no longer domesticated, we can honestly evaluate what we are doing with our limited time.
Questions I've been asking:
When death is no longer avoided, life's priorities come into focus.