Saturday, December 02, 2006


This need not be morbid unless one makes it that way; it comes in the midst of life--and to all of us at some unspecified time. From warm seaside days, lazed away so carelessly, emerges another view of our endless ritual. There are people out on the shore of a late November afternoon, out in the ebbing sunlight, clinging to the fading light of shorter days—end of suntanned bodies, end of a season—each passing golden moment dies so quickly, each new one follows, dying in its train. These cherished moments are like departed loves—they will reappear only as dim memories—perhaps as dried, dusty and faintly aromatic rose petals in a keepsake box. This summer dies away and next year’s distant summer will be an altogether different one. What is now passing away—lost and gone, represents the whole ponderous weight of earth-time, a giant clock somewhere ticking out its lostness. Often easily foretold, here is a chosen hour—of mourning, of loss and separation—and regret. Perhaps this sense of mournful loss is closest to the picture of last moments we are most familiar with; so far as anyone knows it is not our own that we experience, it is always someone else’s. Unfamiliar dark and polished furniture, scent of fading cut flowers with muted organ music and muted voices—the humid hush of “a fine funeral”; “Death comes rubbing white-gloved hands, and smiling” (T. S. Eliot). All in Sunday clothes, the strangeness, coldness and stiffness of the designated “mourners” seem to mirror that of the “Dearly Departed” now occupying center stage. What is celebrated as an “Event” has probably been building up for years, and will now go on forever. From a study of Scriptures this is part of our eternity; how that will be played out is in our own hands—and God’s.

It must be said that He can deal with these things much better than we can all alone; last moments are often problematic. But some one has already asked, “How would anything ever get done here on earth if it were not for last minute dead-lines?”

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