Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Last

The Last

“But many that are first shall be last; and the last first” (Mark 10:31) This is one of those inscrutable verses in the Bible that gives rise to countless interpretations. It seems to indicate that much is opposite to what we think it is.

This principle comes to mind in viewing the wreck of the Peter Iredale on the Northwest coast of Oregon. The Peter Iredale was a 278 foot British four mast bark that ran aground on Clatsop Beach October 25, 1906. Everyone aboard escaped safely but the ship itself became part of the shoreline – literally. Today it is partly buried in the sand and seems to be in the process of revealing more and more of its skeleton to view as the years pass.

If the Peter Iredale had not become a shipwreck on the Pacific coast of America, it would likely have returned to England and decayed in permanent obscurity. But now it lives on, in a manner of speaking. The passengers are unknown, the crew is unknown, the cargo is unknown, its other voyages are unknown, but people come and stare in admiration at this hulk over a hundred years after its demise.

Whatever purpose this ship served in its supposedly useful working life is long since forgotten and insignificant – whereas now it inspires fascination and wonder.

How much of our own lives that seem so important now at the “first” will be so later at the “last”? Perhaps something that is presently unknown or insignificant will be recognized as the defining characteristic of our existence.