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"I will endure unto the very end"

This is not about tragedy, nor horror, though it has elements of both. Bear with me through the first of it, reader, for the last is -- well, you'll see for yourself.

Decades ago, when I was in my teens or even slightly before then, I ran across an article in The Reader's Digest -- I think it was the Digest about a horrible road accident. The firemen who responded to the call found that a sedan containing at least eight people had collided with a stanchion at top speed, bursting into flames that consumed everything in it that could burn and blackening the rolling Detroit iron that made up its frame. The fire was due to a burst gasoline tank; gas burns hot, and the damage done by that fire showed it. There were three bodies in the front seat of the car, five in the back, all of them apparently charred to the bone.

One of the firemen looked into the back seat of the car, checking to see if there was anything that could be done for the poor things in that seat. They had all been welded together by the flames, all one long piece of deeply charred spam barely enclosed by that seat, given how big they had been in life. Maybe they had come from a party. Whatever, the party was over for them all now.

The fireman suddenly realized that part of the front side of the body in the middle, where the chest had to've been, was slowly, rhythmically moving back and forth in a rhythm characteristic of breathing. Shocked to the core, the fireman flinched, briefly turning his head to the side. Then he looked back. Now a flood of thick blood had begun to pour out of what must have been the poor person's mouth, not far above the chest. It did't take very long for the bleeding to stop, and when it did, so did the breathing.

It had taken some time for someone to spot the blazing wreck and call the fire department. The fire department, in turn, took time to get there. Call it at least 20 minutes from the time the wreck happened to the time the fire department got there. During that hellish 20 minutes or so, the person in the middle of the back seat had been breathing all that time in spite of the fact that his/her poor body was charred almost completely through.

How? How could a living, breathing creature still be alive after having been wrapped in gasoline flames for 10 minutes, squeezed in between two others also burning merrily away? This is not the sort of thing that we think of as possible, nor is it routine. This was something out of a horror novel -- and of the teachings of saints and their followers. The body, an expression of the Spirit of G-d, is a marvelous organic machine made of countless molecules all interacting with one another. The brain alone is one of the most perfect creations ever known, a beautiful chemical factory which, moment to moment, strives to keep the neuroendocrine system and the creativity and the soul it serves in a perfect balance, so that life goes on it. It regulates breathing, manages appetites, and serves as a home for our spirits, souls, intellects, and much of the machinery of physical health and endurance. But it is not made for being boiled to death in a burning skull. And yet . . .

Somehow brain and body in that corpse carried on for up to 20 impossible minutes before the firemen got there and the soul was mercifully released. How?

The spirit of G-d, out of which has come all Creation, is invested in every creature at birth or hatching, or even at conception. Call it Zero-Point Energy, because of which, in pure vacuum, virtual particles bubble up and, sometimes, become real particles, the beginnings of universes with dust and gas and stars and galaxies. Being an aspect of the Will of G-d, this energy will not be denied. It is expressed most fully and phenomenally in living beings. It helped our world recover from the catastrophic Permian-Triassic and the Cretaceous-Paleocene Mass Extinction Events that wiped out most life on Earth. And it keeps each living creature -- us -- alive from moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day, year to year.

The magnificence of that poor body of the person in the middle of the back seat of that car, fighting hard to live in spite of what had happened to it, was as much a product of the Spirit of Life -- of G-d -- as anything else. A horror story, yes -- but a story of the unbelievable, inconceivable possibilities inherent in life, and of its endurance, as well. Perdurabo -- "I will endure unto the very end." That is life.

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