By John Donne:
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
Paul put it this way, almost two thousand years ago,
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” (I Corinthians 15:55)
It is a quote, apparently, from Hosea 13:14:
I will ransom them from the power of the grave (or Hell);
I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O grave, is your destruction?
Today I mourn for people who have died. Today I found out that two people I knew, not well, died in June. They died in unrelated circumstances on different continents in the same week. And I knew them both, appreciated them, and am sad for their families.
Death takes away from us the people we enjoy spending our life journey’s with. The others we can walk away from. But the ones we like, the ones we love, the only thing that can pull us away from them is death.
The two who died, Cyndi and Dan, and Donna last week, are all in a better place. They may be watching and wondering why I’m grieving their deaths since I didn’t know them well… But Cyndi’s husband was a teacher of mine. Dan’s daughter and her family are friends of mine. And Donna, despite being on the disabled shopping list, came and helped me with the library. The world is an emptier place without them in it, even if I didn’t know to notice the emptiness.
Cyndi was killed by being run down by a motorcycle. She is the second African missionary I know to have experienced death that way. Nancy died the same way, leaving behind a husband and a newly born child. Satan is alive and driving in Africa, apparently. (It makes me wonder if I should warn Sherry and Darla or just add their safety to my prayer list. Both?)
And, today, news has come through email from two different places of a woman here in my neighborhood who also died by a car. It was pouring, yesterday, and they’d gone to the dentist. She sent the 17 year old out to get the car. He let his 12 year old sibling drive the car across the parking lot. And the sibling panicked and pressed the gas rather than the brake. The mother, a woman a year younger than I am, is dead and leaves behind a grieving family, a broken family, a family with two children wracked with guilt and another six “only” bereft of their mother.
I wish I were a person of ritual who knew what to do and how to assauge the sorrow I feel.
.. Through the lens of the Resurrection, life is not bounded by death — and thus we achieve our freedom in no longer being afraid of it. For while all of us will die one day, our understanding of death changes because of the Resurrection: death becomes little more than the closing of one chapter of our lives and the beginning of another. The resurrected Jesus was almost nonchalant about his own death — extraordinary, since we might expect that someone in his situation could come back to wreak havoc on the political establishment that executed him. Why didn’t he hunt down his enemies? Why didn’t he use his return from the dead as a platform to call attention to his own power?
Perhaps the reason is because Jesus was truly free. He was not concerned about the pettiness of so much social and political action; he was alive and wanted to bring good news to his friends. Perhaps too he was more concerned with inviting his friends to share that joy.
The Ignatian Workout: Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith
borrowed from Happy Catholic, because I thought she might have something soothing up on her site.