Most of you know I’m a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, and not a casual one. So I was hit hard by the tragic and untimely death of Oscar Taveras a couple of days ago. Oscar was a 22-year-old Cardinals outfielder who had as much potential as any young player in the game. We caught exciting glimpses of it this summer, most recently when he hit a dramatic game-tying homer in the National League Championship Series.
Last night, in game 6 of the World Series, Yordano Ventura pitched with a tribute to Oscar Taveras written on his cap: RIP O.T. #18
RIP: Rest in peace.
These three letters/words are the universal wish for people who have died, one that transcends cultures and belief systems. Christians and unbelievers alike say it, probably because it’s so hard to know what else to say in such a difficult moment. I’m not against this. I’m just wondering why we reserve these words for the dead.
It seems to me that peaceful rest is what almost every living person needs, especially in this fast-paced, high-stress, hair-trigger generation.
My associate minister, Mike Black, and I were on our way to lunch last Monday when we witnessed a road rage incident. After a near collision, the drivers of the two vehicles directly in front of us had their doors open and were screaming at each other while waiting for a green light. When the light turned green, the vehicle in front pulled off the road and stopped, obviously hoping the other driver would follow suit so the two of them could fight it out. The other driver didn’t, which probably kept something terrible from happening.
We talk about needing to relax, unwind, chill out, decompress, loosen up, kick back, simmer down, or breathe easy. What are these if not different ways of saying we need some peaceful rest? Yet, if the next time you part company with someone you say, “May you rest in peace,” he/she will likely give you a quizzical look.
Don’t take it the wrong way, but my prayer for you today is that you will be able to rest in peace.