Monday, May 17, 2010

"O Death, where is your sting?..."

These words are quoted by Paul the Apostle in First Corinthians 15:55. Here he is describing physical death as "the last enemy," that has been conquered by Jesus in his resurrection. Now, for the present, I'm not attempting to convince the reader of the veracity of this statement of faith nor of it's relevance, however I'm introducing it as a spring board for a discussion of this dire reality for many of us. The passing of our loved ones.
As of this writing I have been on the planet for 39 wonderful years, and like myself most of my peer group is also in this age bracket. Many of us are now beginning to see our parents "get up in age" and some of us have even lost one of or both of our parents. My mother died a little over a year ago.
Her passing for me was not expected and it was a shock for my family. As a person of faith it touched the core of my most deeply held beliefs. As a Christian, I had to begin to observe was Christ's resurrection a true, existential reality for me, one beyond the abstract, intellectual assent of my youth. I had to ask myself, "Do I FEEL this is true?" And Christ's resurrection, did it provide true consolation? Though untouchable, I needed to ask, if this act, event, was as real to me as my mother's love, though that also was intangible. Did faith provide a meaning and give a strength to me that others did not have access to?
These were my own inner questions.
The loss of a parent, some how shakes our whole "ground of being." It's like the realization of the abyss, especially if our identity, values, worldview, and security was learned from them. One begins to ask, "who am I now?" I would guess, that without faith in a god, one may have to completely redefine one's self. When my own mother died, I had to stare "the abyss" in the face, it's heart. I recall screaming "Momma where did you go?"
Death causes us define our priorities and meaning. I thought of this after watching THE LIVING WAKE recently,

The key character, K. Roth Binew, asks these same questions. Without sharing the conclusions Binew comes to (I recommend seeing it), I think this black comedy reveals the questions all of us eventually ask, "What is the sum of my life?"
Recently, a dear friend also lost a parent, a father. When my own mother passed, one thing I saw very clearly is that I survived( and I use that word "survive" deliberately because I didn't believe I would survive) because of the love and presence of dear people to me, dear ones who allowed me to 'be" where ever I was I and yet who remained present. They allowed me to discuss my mother and her death (and also her life) if I wanted to or to say nothing If I wanted to do that. To maybe escape my pain through watching a movie. Most importantly, they were with me and I believe it was their love that got me through. As the rock group, King's X sang, it's "love, that holds it all together,"

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