We've been pretty busy here. One of the things keeping me busy is that I've accepted a position helping with music in our children's worship services at church. This month we're working our way up to Dia De Los Muertos in November.
One of the songs we're singing is "Circle of the Sun". It's a great song about the life cycle, being born, living, and dying. I know that dying is a taboo subject for many people. It's certainly not talked about much in social situations. Yet, it is as important a part of our lives as birth. In our church we don't offer the comfort of a promised eternal salvation. We acknowledge and honor the many beliefs of world faith traditions, while respecting the independent search for truth of each individual.
I'm just singing with the kids, but here's what I'd say if I were speaking.
Who here was born? Ya? Me too!
Who has a family? Me too!
Who here is going to die? Me too!
Did I see that some of your hands didn't come up so quickly? Why? I know you're going to die. I'm going to die. We will all die, someday. You. Me. Everyone here. Everyone we've ever known.
It's normal to feel sad and lonely when someone we know or love dies. It's normal to feel worried and scared to think about your own death or that of those you care about. But I want to tell you something.
IT'S OK. Dying isn't the worst thing that happens to a person. Those who have died are beyond pain and sorrow. It's those people alive who suffer when a loved one dies. When someone we care about dies - we hurt. We can see that other people are hurting too. Hurting is scary. Sometimes we don't know if the hurt will ever stop. We can feel alone and isolated in our pain. So when someone dies it's up to us to reach out to other people -to offer comfort - to ASK for comfort. When death takes a loved one we need to acknowledge that loss. We also need to be present in our community. We need to experience the human condition together, acknowledge our vulnerability and take solace in the company of fellow travelers.
Let's celebrate death as one more part of our circle of life. Death will come to us all. Let's not ignore it. Let's play with it. Play tag with it! Let's have so much fun, love so many so hard, that when death finally catches us, breathless and laughing, we have no regrets that we're finally "it".
I don't know how that would go down in Sunday school. But it's what I believe, and what in essence I've told our own children. It doesn't make the pain of loss any better. I don't think it takes away the fear of death. But I do think that acknowledging the place of death in life honors our lives far more than ignoring it.