This post will be a bit of a "cross-over episode," as Leonard Nimoy died today at 83. I was saddened by this. Growing up, Star Trek was a companion, a show that formed my imagination, taught me certain values, and gave me some of my first fictional role models. Nimoy, in the television series and the feature films, was always the highlight for me. Spock was a character who was supposed to be alien, but always conveyed a certain wonderful humanity. And so a childhood hero died today.
Death occupies my thoughts frequently, not just today. Not, I hope, in a morbid way, but because I think it is important for a person to consider their mortality, and let that shape how they live their lives day-to-day. I will die someday, so I ought to live in a particular way right now, keeping that before my eyes. But my senses tend to be dull, as many do, and so I usually forget, and place death in my pocket. When someone dies, someone whose death will affect me in some way, it is always a moment where death stands before me again, and it refreshes my memory: ah, I will die someday.
So, to tie this in to the hero of this blog, the good Doctor. This is a series that gets to cheat a bit. The protagonist changes actors every few years, "regenerating" into the next incarnation. The obvious reason is that it allows the show to continue on for as long as the ratings are good, because it is not tied to the willingness of an actor to play the character for years upon years. Different people have different Doctor's as their favorites, but when the consistency of the actors remains good (as it has in the reboot series, I think), it is hard not to be attached to all of them. It is sad to see your favorite go (let's here it for the Tenth Doctor!), but it's okay, because it also gives a feeling of expectation, the joyful anticipation of seeing what this next actor will bring to the role. The resurrection of the Doctor is a wonderful thing, as well as sad.
Spock got to come back from the dead once (Star III: The Search for Spock). Leonard Nimoy will not. He was, for my money, a fabulous actor who played a role well. He's also played other roles well, but none like Spock. Sadness over the loss of a person, whether known personally, or who influenced our lives through their vocations, is normal. Doctor Who gives us another way to think of death, though, one that is filled with more hope. With death comes sadness, but a sadness that then becomes something new, adventurous, a mystery to unravel, an expectation to fill. After death, there is new life.
As we face our deaths, which will come to each one of us, we don't have to stop with sadness. It doesn't have to be an experience of total fear, or resigned desperation. Our death, as Christians, as ones who will receive a resurrection of our own, is a future of anticipation and mystery, of joy and discovery, of something inexpressibly wonderful. So while the visage of death, having taken Mr. Nimoy, reminds me that I have reached my childhood's end and can no longer ignore my mortality, the fear of death gives way to the hope of eternal life, and sadness gives way to something new. Maybe the question to ask when we approach our deaths ought to be, with hopeful expectation and curious expressions, "What's next?"
Rest in Peace, Leonard Nimoy. And to all the rest, Live Long and Prosper.