Taking leave of life

He [Shield] was well regarded and ruled the Danes
for a long time after his father took leave
of his life on earth.

-Beowulf, Seamus Heaney translation, l.64-66

“Took leave of his life” has got to be about the most gentle and optimistic way of describing death I’ve ever heard. It’s like he just excused himself to go to the bathroom or took a few days off work to rest up. What is fascinating though is that for Christians believing in the resurrection of the dead (just like the creed says), this is not so far from exactly what happens. The difference is that we don’t do the asking of permission to leave and then show back up when we are ready.

Only one man can do that, as he himself explains in John 10:

“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

-John 10:17-18, NKJV