You know those places you pass by many times through the week that you suddenly notice something you had not done before? Well, I had one of those moments earlier today. It’s a turning point into a main road at the corner of our local cemetery. It has two benches, next to each other. Not that unusual. Well maybe a tad unusual as you would have thought that one might have been enough as there doesn’t seem to be huge amount of wannabe bench sitters in that particular spot.
What was striking to me was the fact that both were facing the cemetery.Of course, they would have provided someone with the much-needed restful gaze perhaps towards the place that a loved one had been buried. But I guess – it isn’t just for them. It might be for all of us. a daily and necessary reminder to all passers-by – that we will all have to face our immortality.As Kingsley Amis wrote:
“Death has this much to be said for it: You don’t have to get out of bed for it. Wherever you happen to be they bring it to you, free.’
This is a strange pit stop for the soul, in a world that prefers so often to be blind, deaf and mute about the big D word. Perhaps one of the last taboos of our Western world…Yet smart people think about death – not with a morbid fascination – but with a sober preparation. Many questions could pester us: what happens after, when will it happen, will it hurt, how will I cope?
We are wise to remember the words of Saul Bellow:
“Death is the dark backing that a mirror needs if we are able to see anything.”
The thought of it should bring clarity to our everyday life. The striking thing is that many people in the Bible die well. It is one of my humble goals in life: to learn to die well and teach others to do so too.
Think of Simeon:
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word.” (Luke 2:29).
“I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Philippians 1:23) and For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).
Take that journey today, sit on the bench, ponder and re-frame your life in the light of your mortality