|Jimmy Kimmel touted his three comedic alternate endings to Lost. The following may not be story arcs for a blockbuster cast reunion, but what about these slightly more realistic alternatives:
All is black
Jack closes his eyes (or eye) and breathes his last. The chemical and electrical impulses in his brain fade and stop. Rigormortis sets in. His body decays there in the bamboo arbor. Dust to dust. It is the same end as the man in black. Same end as Ben. And Hurley, Kate, Sawyer and the rest. The choices they made in this life have no ultimate meaning beyond the experience of this life. The fellowship and community that means so much is lost forever. As is each individual. All is lost.
All is one
Jack closes his eyes and breathes his last. Wakes up in the sideways reality. Oceanic flight 815 has landed safely. He reconciles with his son, heals Lock and, touching his Father’s coffin, recovers the memories of his life on the island. All the choices he made to lead and love and sacrifice flash before his eyes in scene after scene of heartache and joy. The richness of the person he became through loss and love flood back into his soul. He is so much the deeper for it. Transformed by suffering and good choices, his joy is so much greater than that of the smaller life he was living.
Ben is outside. His selfish choices have made him a poorer person. The broken trust in all his relationships separates him from the loving fellowship of the community. Forgiveness is offered, but what happened happened. How does a lifetime of choosing self over others finally dissolve into choosing a loving, sacrificial community? That’s just not the person Ben has become. He’s not ready to join the community yet. He is in limbo? Purgatory? How will he reconcile or work out the consequences of his choices made from both great wounds and self-centered choices? We don’t know.
After the grand reunion the door opens. Christian Shepherd, Jack’s Dad, steps into the light. Reminds me of the eastern leaning The Fountain with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weiss. “Death is the beginning of awe.” But in that movie as well as all Eastern thought, death is also the end of individuality as each one finally transcends individual pain, selfishness, willfullness and desire to become one with the all.
What might happen in this sideways story line as each individual steps into the light? Perhaps, as in The Fountain, if the Source of all things is impersonal, then he or she ceases to exist as a person but is transported into an impersonal oneness with all others, with everything in the Universe. All the memories they have recovered of their individual lives are poured into the ocean of collective memory. Ultimately, all individuality is lost. There is no loving community of richly different individuals. Everything is connected and the unity eventually obliterates/subsumes the individuality. For to create is to choose. To choose is to have a will. How does creation or a collective will exist without the loss of individuality?
They step through the door and become one with the light and the water at the heart of the island. Golden and glowing and ??? bubbling? Existence ends in impersonal being. All is one.
All is well
Jack closes his eyes and breathes his last. Wakes up in the loving community of friends, some who died before him, some after. As each one steps through the chapel door they step into the light that radiates, not from an impersonal wellspring, but from a Person. The greater which has created the lesser. (How can it be the other way around? How can an impersonal source of light and water create the richness of human love, life and complexity we’ve seen on the screen?
The recovered memories and the richness of their heroic acts and choices go with them. They remain the individuals we have come to know and love. Nothing of their individuality is lost. Not even their flaws. Their poor choices have been redeemed. They don’t have to work them off or be separated from the sacred circle. Forgiveness has been freely offered by the one who waits for them and loves them far more deeply than they love one another. Who became the evil and selfishness of their own lives and died in their place, but who was resurrected from the grave to offer them forgiveness and life. Even Ben. All is mercy and grace for those who choose to be reconciled with their Creator in the way he has provided. By his stripes, the scars from the whip lashes, all their wounds are healed. It is a beautiful mythology, a true myth, as CS Lewis has said. One that mirrors and yet transcends our own experience of how suffering and sacrifice and choosing others over self bring richness, life and joy. (In mho far more beautiful and meaningful than the mythology of impersonal electromagnetic light holding all things together and turning greedy, selfish people into smoke monsters.)
As Jack and Kate, Sun and Jen, Sawyer and Juliette step into the light of eternity, not simply one person awaits, rather a loving community of three persons, whose individuality and community are mirrored in these lives. The end of all things is co-participation—with each other and with the Father, Son and Spirit who protect and make good on promises and yet offer real choices with real consequences that ripple out into eternity. And if Ben remains on the outside, never ready to go in, that is Ben’s choice to be truly and deeply lost.
Those who enter find themselves in a new story. An unfolding plot far more exciting than mere existence. They continue to live individual lives of challenge and choices, service and leadership in a community of ever-deepening love. Life together becomes richer, deeper, higher and above all, more joyful. Nothing is lost but pain and separation. All is well.