Aside from the slightly Pagan overtones ;-), I’ve recently really been enjoying “Do not stand at my grave and weep” by Leah:
Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
I know I should be posting this at Easter and not Christmas, but it made me chuckle so much I decided I just had to share it now…
“Memento Mori” went the medieval saying…”Remember Death”. In the thoughtful arfticle below, Jennifer Fulwiler talks about the top five regrets of the dying, a very useful resource to read in preparation for a new year…
I will give praise during my lifetime, I will not be a dead person among the living
– St. Ephraim
Whether it’s turning twenty-one, forty, or sixty-five, whether it’s losing your health or your hair, your books or your beauty, your money or your memory, a person you love or a possession you prize, yesterday’s rapture or today’s applause, you have to move on. Essential to the human’s pilgrimage to the Christian journey is the self-emptying more or less like Christ’s own emptying. Time and again, from womb to tomb, you have to let go. And to let go is to die a little. It’s painful, it can be bloody; and so we hang [on], clutch our yesterday’s, like Linus’s blanket, refuse to grow
– Walter Burghardt
As Pascha nears we will contemplate the Resurrection, the witness to it and the key arguments against it.
Our Holy Faith teaches us Jesus, suffered, died and rose in accordance with God’s plan. Christ’s entering into our suffering was half of the story. The story of man’s redemption didn’t end with Christ’ suffering and death, even if we choose to focus on His Death as the perfect sacrifice. It ends with Christ’s triumphal Resurrection, the conquering of death, His ascension and His reigning at the right hand of the Father and eventual return as ultimate Victor. This is what motivated the Apostles, disciples and early Christian martyrs to give everything – even to the point of dying to bring even us the full Gospel, the “good news” of His death and resurrection.
So while it’s true that seeing Jesus’ sufferings helps us bear our own, there’s the added boost that we know all this suffering is temporary. All will be made right some day and then we will have joy that we cannot even imagine now. “O Death, where is thy sting? Grave, where is thy victory?” – 1 Corinthians 15:55
God raised Christ up putting an end to the agony of death since it was impossible for him to be held in it’s power. It was impossible because He was the righteous God-man and had given himself over in perfect love to God the Father. Not only did Jesus surrender his immortality and die on the cross, he rose with supreme authority over the whole realm of the dead. He burst out of the prison of death, breaking the chains and locks of all those held in captivity and carrying the keys of the prison with him.
Think of the triumphant icon of Christ standing over the gates of Hades and death, gripping Adam’s and Eve’s wrist in one hand while their other is outstretched in supplication. Look closely, you will see little keys and broken locks strewn about in the darkness around a prostate and bound Hades. Each of the keys is the key of death and Hades for each one of us. Hades is not destroyed – it is still there – but its power to bind people is gone. There are no chains, no locked doors. If only we raise our hands in supplication and longing for Jesus Christ, He is there to lift us from the grave. “…By death He trampled death…” we sing the hymn of victory!
Without the bodily resurrection, Christianity is a cruel hoax and our Faith is useless. Christ’s Holy Resurrection is a new experience of grace in the world. It was a completely, stunning, and shocking revelation.