"on the knife edge of life and death"
In church yesterday, I heard a man speak words that I've heard many times before, but they struck with special force this time:
"We live on the knife edge of life and death."Perhaps it pierced more deeply because the man -- a military officer in his 50s -- was stationed in Afghanistan and here on merely brief leave for Christmas, so his words were spoken with deeper than usual conviction.
But he wasn't speaking only of his soldier's life in Afghanistan. He was referring to our life in the world, and his words came directly after those of a young American man who had spoken of a friend from India who had recently gone to her homeland to scatter her father's ashes there and returned to the States via Amsterdam on Christmas Day with Northwest Airlines Flight 253.
That was the plane chosen for an ultimately failed Christmas suicide bombing by Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, an Islamist who must have imagined that he carried the legendary scimitar Dhū l-Fiqār that Muhammad is said to have bequeathed to Ali, but which proved for the young Nigerian Islamist a sword of Tyrfing that turned against its wielder.
We tread, as A. J. Dawson might agree, "a double edge, . . . a blade to cut [one] . . . twice dead."