“DEATH BE NOT PROUD” (JOHN DONNE – 1609)

“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so; For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow die not, poor death, not yet canst thou thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, and soonest our best men with thee do go, rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery. Thou are slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, and dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, and poppy or charms can make us sleep as well and better than thy stroke; why swell’s thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally and death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”

As Summer moves on life is in full bloom. The trees shelter animal and plant life; the fields are filled with crops maturing and life abounds. And yet, the days are getting shorter; we continue to lose daylight each day and little by little, the average temperature continues to slide a bit. We approach the harvest season, full of life and hope.

It is at times interesting to look carefully at the seasons of life; to look around and feel the energy and to listen to the sounds of the crickets and birds as they, like the plants move into the fullness of growth – they give life and they move on. In our consciousness, we live with fear of impending death and make heroes out of those who face death with courage. They become a sign to the rest of us and a reminder that each of us is born to die. We plant seeds, so that they can grow and bring life, and in turn die and start the cycle of life all over. Life never disappears. Plants and animals all provide food for one another and for the world. The planet Earth is fertile garden where life grows in abundance. The earth takes time off every so often to replenish itself; it rests for awhile. And then, renewed, it bursts forth with new life. The energy of the Sun and the rain produce life.

Somewhere along the way, some of our ancestors saw death as evil; as punishment for not being perfect. As our ancestors in faith looked upon Jesus being executed on a cross, they decided that he was paying a price for that original sin of disobedience. They believed that God demanded a pound of flesh – that God was an angry and vengeful God. They were convinced that at one time, there was no death – only life and that somewhere along the line, people chose death. We have begun to move away from this mindset, as we discover more about the ongoing creation of the cosmos – and to understand that life moves from simple to complex and that this process is more than just physical. We begin to understand that creation itself is a miracle; that life is a miracle and that it changes and grows in complexity. We also begin to understand that there is a Spirit that emerges in this evolution – and that for millions of years has spread her wings and breathed into our world – perhaps among many others.

In reading the life of Jesus, we once again begin to understand that life, death and resurrection are all connected. We are part of something much grander than we can grasp. We are part of life unfolding, being born, dying and in the process, feeding others, physically, mentally and spiritually. As I walk through a garden, I understand that we plant seeds that will grow, mature, give life and die. And that this earth that a we are part of, is the womb. The tomb becomes the womb. We actually never die, we just give of ourselves so that life may continue to flourish and continue to grow and expand in marvelous ways. We are part of that. We, at times, get all caught up in guilt, anger and violence agains others. Most of this stems from fear of radical change – of growth; we become comfortable in our little creations and lose sight of the creation that has no boundaries or limits of space or time. Life is a spectacular journey and we need to take the time to look around; to listen; to smell; and to trust.

Death is a mirage; life is the Spirit of God come alive in the cosmos; creation unfolding around and within us. We are miracles.

Jesus taught his disciples: “You have the freedom to choose life or death: Choose life!”

This teaching comes directly from Genesis – which teaches that we are created in the image and likeness of God; we are free to choose to become life givers- to become gift for our world and one another, or to become bearers of death through division and hatred based on ignorance. It is up to us to choose and then to get involved. and to take responsibility to build bridges and tear down walls. To Life; To Life:

 

 

 

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