Today’s Word: ‘Death’ as in… NOT the last word; the final word is always Life!
Catherine McNiel continues in her book, All Shall Be Well:
“It is hard, so hard, during the winter seasons of life and of our souls. I tremble with fear at the thought of putting this truth to paper, of saying it out loud, but here is the truth, and with God’s help, I summon the courage to say it: We can rejoice in all circumstances. With God’s help, we shall strengthen the muscles of endurance and rejoice, even in the dark. With God as our helper, we will stand in the day of trouble, and we will dance. We will turn the corner, finally, and discover the first whispers of hope. About 400 years ago, the poet John Donne pinned a sonnet in titled “Death, Be Not Proud.” Here’s what he wrote:Death, be not proud, though some have called theeMighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrowDie not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,And soonest our best men with thee do go,Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,And poppy or charms can make us sleep as wellAnd better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?One short sleep past, we wake eternallyAnd death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
So, death, we will contemplate you, we will face you, courageously coming forward toe-to-toe, for you are indeed our destiny. But do not let this go to your head. Yours will not be the final word.”
Life always has the final word. Every time I gather with a family at First Snelling, or any other cemetery for that matter, I always go early. I go early enough to spend time walking the grounds. Every marker is a reminder of a life, a story, some love. And with every marker comes the opportunity to pause and contemplate death as a reality, yes, but to come courageously forward and face it, toe-to-toe saying, “Don’t let this go to your head. Yours is not the final word. Life always has the final word.”
Once again, today, for just a few moments, with your hands open, hold those for whom this is more than theory. And again, let’s hold them together.