Sunday, September 1, 2013

"Death Be Not Proud" -- a poem by John Donne which I highly recommend

Death is not something that can be avoided, evaded, or protected against.  It is as much a part of life as breathing, and it is our attitude toward it that informs our lives.  According to Wikipedia, 57,000,000 people die every year.  That's about 158,000 every day.   The majority of the world's towns and villages don't have that much population, so it's like several towns just disappearing every day.  Suicide claims 2,000 lives each day.  Manmade violence claims another 5,000 from mass killings by lone gunmen to military attacks.  Only about 80 die each day as a result of the weather or other natural disasters.  The daily numbers are small because usually there are only one or two really big disasters a year that can claim as many as 20,000 lives.  Here, where we live, 2,000 people a day die from malaria.  Death is a reality, an unescapable reality.  Our worth is not decided by our death since it comes to all.  Our worth is in how we live our lives, however short or long they may be.  I once held the hand of a 16-year-old boy and held his mother's hand as well as the machine keeping him alive was turned off to let him die.  His sixteen years were brief, but he has not been forgotten and a scholarship was established in his name that has sent worthy students to college for more years than he was alive.  It is in the living that we establish who we are, and it is in our living that we change the world.  Of the 57,000,000 who die every year, not all made a difference to those around them.  Some were considered to be important by this world but not significant in the ways that really count.  We don't know, can't know, exactly when we are going to die, but we can live each day that is given to us as gift--a gift for others.  It is in the hearts of others that we will live forever.   For the true Christians (there are more than a few false ones), death is just a door to a new reality.  It cannot nor will not be victorious--read John Donne's poem mentioned above as just one example.  True Christians do not fear death for they have been shown the passage to the eternal.  That doesn't mean we do not grieve for those who die because we will miss them, but we don't grieve because their lives are over--they are just beginning.  It is not learning to live with death that is difficult; it is learning to live with life--one day at a time, since that's all we get.  Live today for the love of others and know that death, while inevitable, is not the end of the relationships we have made by loving others.

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