One who wrote unflinchingly of death, Ms. Dickinson’s poem (below) has been bouncing around in my head and heart this week. I don’t know that I quite agree with her that we shall not use our love again until eternity, but I know the busyness of funeral-planning that often overtakes one (or an entire family), and the urge to vacuum up broken bits of heart.
The Bustle in a House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth –
The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –
I hope we do use that love again; even the same love I had and have for Grandpa used for his children, grandchildren, and hoped-for great-grandchildren. I think that’s a piece of resurrection in the midst of death. Hope in the middle of darkness.
spending the last few days keeping vigil at grandpa’s hospice bedside, I’ve counted each of his breaths. As the pauses between his exhale and inhale lengthen, I hold my own breath, listening for his lungs to heave once more, knowing that at some point soon, they won’t. He will exhale, his body will go slack, and he won’t breathe anymore till his Maker remakes him, on the last day. Continue reading
our bodies are only dust, the prayers and liturgies of this day remind us. But this year, as I prepare to go up to visit my dying grandfather, I’m struck by how precious dust is to us. Continue reading
Today, I write at the Covenant Blog about how memorizing prayers has helped me deal with death. Check it out HERE.
I’ve also written about how I’ve seen God through life with my grandpa over the last weeks and years. Look HERE for an irregular Eucharist. And HERE for what he’s learned from illness.
Friend & mentor, Fr. Mark Michael, wrote today on the Covenant blog about the significance of graveyards.
It made me think about my own place of ministry…
No older than some of the dear students with whom I spent the last week at choir camp in the NC mountains, the unarmed Mike Brown was shot and killed yesterday in a St. Louis suburb.
I read the news when I checked twitter from my bed this morning. I had to do some sleuthing to even find the story on the internets–this death hardly makes it to CNN.com (only under “Mike Brown,” not his Christian name, “Michael Brown”).
Feeling sick with yet another death on our hands, having chosen unadvisedly to look at twitter before praying Morning Prayer, the Holy Spirit butted into my heart anyway.
A scrap of music (performed in the link by Leichester Chorale) fell into my mind as I my stomach knotted up and I searched for more information on my tiny screen. I’d first heard it exactly a year ago on my arrival at choir camp. The sweet young voices of faithful young people gathered and blended, crying for peace–an end to violence and death–knowing that only God can bring such relief.
Even a year later, their voices still minister to me: pulling up the curtain on ugliness, glimpsing death and deep-seated hatred, what should pop into my mind as my heart breaks but the God’s word set to beautiful music, sung and prayed by dear devoted young people with courage and faith?
A voice cries out in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the LORD.
More Screwtape, its timeliness almost shocks:
“How much better for us if all humans died in costly nursing homes amid doctors who lie, nurses who lie, friends who lie, as we have trained them, promising life to the dying, encouraging the belief that sickness excuses every indulgence, and even, if our workers know their job, withholding all suggestion of a priest lest it should betray to the sick man his true condition! And how disastrous for us is the continual remembrance of death which war enforces. One of our best weapons, contented worldiness, is rendered useless. In wartime not even a human can believe that he is going to live forever.”
(The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, a satire; a collection of letters from a senior tempter to a greener demon)
Ostensibly written during the outbreak of WWII. The first sentence reminds me especially of the situation faced by the characters of Brideshead Revisited on the declining health of the patriarch–no one wanted to let him know that he was dying; how far we’ve come from the prayer in the Great Litany of the BCP that we “would not die suddenly and unprepared.”
Anyone else (with me), suffer almost constantly from “contented worldiness”?