I have learned many things as a pastor and am sure I will learn much more. One of the main things I have learned is that people do not like talking about… death and dying. People would rather talk about anything else, just not that topic. However, death is part of life and it is something that we all must face.
Losing someone is hard and one would rather it not happen. Throughout history, people have sought to find a way to cheat death and live forever. Of course, the one that has been recently made famous again is Captain Jack Sparrow and the Fountain of Youth. The Fountain of Youth is a spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus (5th century BC), the Alexander romance (3rd century AD), and the stories of Prester John (early Crusades, 11th/12th centuries AD). Stories of similar waters were also evidently prominent among the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the early 16th century, who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini. The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century, when it was attached to the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. Tradition says that Ponce de León was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513, but this is a myth. He actually was looking for gold and the expansion of the Spanish empire.
Genghis Khan with all his wealth and power questioned numerous and various religious leaders about the secret to living forever in this world – but failed.
One of the greatest searches for immortality was led by Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. He ruled at a time when various provinces were at war with one another. A great military leader, he conquered province after province and created one nation, launching the Qin dynasty, for which China probably was named. Qin Shi Huang had an expansive vision for his country. His public works projects included the unification of diverse state walls into what later became the Great Wall of China and a massive new national road system. One of the emperor’s greatest concerns was his own death. He undertook a futile search for an elixir of immortality, which he did not find. Realizing that he would in fact die one day, he used his wealth and power to build a city-sized mausoleum for himself. Craftsmen created a life-size terracotta army to guard it. The purpose of the warriors, cavalry, soldiers, and horses was to protect the emperor in his afterlife. The army took years and years to build. By the time Qin Shi Huang died in 210 BC, his mausoleum was surrounded by more than 8,000 soldiers, along with chariots and horses. When you see the pictures of the terracotta warriors and horses, you cannot help being amazed at how China’s first emperor focused his resources on himself and his experience of the afterlife.
Today, with the use of modern technology, we seek immortality. We have had success in living longer but not immortality. But what if I told you the answer is right in front of us?
(To be Continued)