We die alone

24 Apr

Not a really happy way to start the day, but it is a true statement.  Is it why many people do not like solitude?  In our generation we not seem to learn the lessons of death because we avoid any conversation of death, except in flippant sayings like, “you can’t take it with you.”

I like the Christian faith because, at its best, we talk about real things: Life and Death, Blessings and Curse: Choices we are given; and the hope of transformation in this life and in the life after this one.

In the text today, although Simon the Cyrene is compelled to carry Jesus’ cross (he was so beaten he could not carry it), Jesus dies alone on that Cross.  I think the feeling of isolation in death is felt through Jesus’ cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”.  There is a lot of writing on this sentence and certainly it is the text from Psalm 22, but I think it also reflects the reality of aloneness in death.

I was the last family member to be with Dad before he died.  He was so sick at the end, his breathing was long and labored, I also sensed a fear in him of the unknown.  As much as I wanted to make everything OK for Dad, he had to travel the last leg on his own – as we all will.  Solitude.

Friday;  The solitude of the cross                        Matthew 27:32-36

32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots;36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him.

I pray this day you have time to sink down into the discomfort of death.  It is OK to be there, to know that it is sad; yet even in that aloneness and sadness the Eternal is there.  It is the hope of our faith.  I think if we can become more comfortable with our discomfort we can enjoy all the realities for life.  The United Methodist funeral ritual says,

“Give to us your grace, that as we shrink before the mystery of death, we may see the light of eternity.  Speak to us once more your solemn message of life and of death.  Help us to live as those who are prepared to die.  And when our day here are accomplished, enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that living or dying, our life may be in you, and that nothing in life or in death will be able to separate us from your great love in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.”

Peace and grace attend you way,  Mary

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