Friday, January 25, 2008

A Theme Not Lightly to be Broached

In the Eastern Star Installation Service the "sermonette" or admonition portion of the ceremony states:

"No one can truly affirm that another day or even a single hour will be committed to our trust. Therefore if we have been faithful heretofore let us increase our exertions for the future."
I have always found those words very meaningful. I realize that my life could end at any minute and I am aware that when it does I will be as King Solomon says:

The dead know not anything: their love, their hatred, their envy, is now perished! Neither have they, anymore, a portion of anything that is done under the sun.... Death terminates the labor of a man. Henceforth generations may build and occupy, but he will not be there.
There is a movie out right now called "The Bucket List." It is supposed to be about two old men who know they are going to die and they make up a list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket. Evidently while they do these things they talk about their relationships and are lead to some healing in that respect even though they both eventually "kick the bucket."

I was reading in a newsletter that I get about a person who was reviewing a list of people that he knew who had died during the past year. (Much as I did in my post yesterday) and he said"

"If we're paying attention, as we should be, wisdom should grow with the number of times we've been to the cemetery to celebrate the life of a loved one. Every death is the end of a life and a message to the living. Those trips should force us to focus on the finite nature of life."
I am 66 years old, If I die tomorrow it won't be any great loss. (Although I have several nonagenarian friends and if I can stay healthy I would not object to making it that far.) I will have lived my life and it was pretty good for the most part. I try not to have regrets. I do have some. One major one is the loss of a friendship (friendships can die also) and I have mourned that as much as I have some deaths. But by in large I am pretty content.

The death of younger people is tragic to me. they did not really get a chance to experience life to the fullest. I especially hate it when I hear of the death of a child. No one can really understand why that happens. The promise of their life will never be fulfilled. No one really got to know them. All we can do is offer comfort and love to the parents.

I don't think that death is the end but if it is so be it. I prefer to believe that we go on to a new state of existence and further lessons to be learned until we become one with the One. All of us. But that is just my belief.

I heard Christianity described as a "death cult" where all of the adherents are looking to be with their Lord in Heaven and want the end of the world to come so that they can join Him in heaven. I would say that if that is true we should not be surprised when they do not see any value in preserving our world. Why shouldn't they open up more shooting of endangered species as they recently did by allowing the shooting of wolves in the Yellowstone area. What is the point of saving something that "God" is going to destroy in an Armageddon they can't wait for?

I prefer to preserve our world for our children so that they will have a world filled with the diversity which we enjoy. I would prefer that we not use up all the resources so that the world is denuded and depleted. I would prefer that we all share so that no child (or adult) has to go to bed hungry or not even have a place to go to bed.

Humans call death "a great mystery" and we don't really understand it. In the Council Royal Master Degree, Hiram says:

"Death is a theme not lightly to be broached by those subject to its power. The young may die, the old must die and the wisest knowest not how soon. There is none that escapes the inexorable doom."
Emily Dickson wrote:

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ‘t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

I have been with two people when they died. My grandmother was lying down in her room and said "My God I am awful sick." and died. It was the hardest experience I had ever gone through. She was a second mother to me and we had lived with my grandparents since I was four years old (with the exception of three years). I had just entered college and was 17 years old.

My mother had COPD and eventually the disease took her. After a lifetime of smoking she had to carry an oxygen bottle around with her and it was very hard to see her those last few years. Eventually she had to go into the hospital and I was at school one Monday morning teaching when I got a call that she would not last much longer. I am so glad that I got that call because I was with her for her last moments. It was hard and yet it was not. It was not unexpected as my grandmother's death was and it was very peaceful. After years of laboring for breath she just stopped breathing and was gone. I can still hear the nurse say "So peaceful." It was on January 16, 1995 when it happened.

I hold these women high in my heart and memory and still feel they are "with" me. We never lose our loved ones. They are always with us. Several days after she passed I had a dream about my mother. She had just had her hair done and said something to me about it. I started to tell her how nice she looked and then said, "Wait a minute you are dead." Then I reached out and touched her. She felt solid. It was an eire experience, but it affirmed for me that there is more to our existence than what we call "life."

I wrote a tribute to my mother and handed it out at her funeral. I tried to read it to a friend but knew I could not get through it. At the end I quoted a piece of writing by Thomas Wolfe. I share it with you now.

From "You Can't Go Home Again."

Something has spoken to me in the night, burning the tapers of the waning year: something has spoken in the night, and told me I shall die, I know not where.


"to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing:
to lose the life you have, for greater life;
to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving;
to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth - -

" --Whereon the pillars of this earth are founded, toward which the conscience of the world is tending - a wind is rising, and the rivers flow."

I believe that we will all one day leave the friends we love for greater loving in a land more kind than home, more large than earth. Until that time I shall try to remember the advice from my 96 year old friend who reminds me that the day is wasted where you do not learn something or laugh. Thanks for listening. May all who are apart be reconciled and Brethren once again dwell together in harmony. Hugs, j

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From Preston by way of Webb:

The great Creator having been pleased, out of his mercy, to remove our brother from the cares and troubles of a transitory existence, to a state of eternal duration, and thereby to weaken the chain by which we are united, man to man, may we, who survive him, anticipate our approaching fate, and be more strongly cemented in the ties of union and friendship; that, during the short space allotted to our present existence, we may wisely and usefully employ our time, and, in the reciprocal intercourse of kind and friendly acts, mutually promote the welfare and happiness of each other.