Ashes to Ashes – Hope

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Now that we talk of dying –  And should I have the right to smile?
TS Eliot – Portrait of a Lady

A wizard from another universe once asked me, after a sequence of events: “And you still believe in coincidence?”

No, I stopped believing in coincidence right after he asked me that question. Yesterday, I attended a memorial service for the father of a long time friend. Low key, no eulogy by the minister who only offered forth a scripture and a prayer. Instead, loving words from family and friends. He and his wife were residents of a local nursing home and had been for several years. The memorial service was held in the dining room of the nursing home. I don’t think he had made any prior requests about the service as to where or when or what. During his last week of life, his daughter made those plans as his body is being shipped to Arlington Cemetery for burial. They were residents of Indiana until a few years ago when they moved here.

On another blog I follow, a woman spoke of pre-arranging funeral and burial plans and, was rather upset and vulnerable feeling about it. She spoke of her inward feelings and how all of it was affecting her. It is a journal journey and she assures me, she is blooming forth from the journey.

So, do I still believe in coincidence? No, I do not. I also know, that on this cold morning, I checked on the progress of my flowering quince bush. Although bush is an understatement. It is about seven feet high and probably twice that in circumference. This bush was rooted from a shoot I took from my mother’s home which was taken from a bush from our family when she moved, that bush was rooted from a shoot taken from my great grandmother’s farm, which was taken from… get my drift here. For over two hundred years, that flowering quince brought from England and carefully nurtured has produced other bushes – all of them strong and always full of beautiful deep rosy pink blooms. It is one of the earliest of our flowers trees/bushes to bloom.

On this cold morning, after the polar vortex, after snow and ice, the gnarly branches are covered in buds – many showing that pink color. Softly it whispered to me, “Alive. Hope.”

Death is hard for many of us. Some of think we will die young, or will live forever, or that it is important where we find our final earthly rest, or how much pomp and circumstance is put into our funeral/memorial service. Many of us shy away from death, fear it, deny it. A friend of my husband’s is obsessed with health, exercise, OCD about his eating habits (if it is Monday, it is a salad with no dressing for supper). He is terrified of dying and seems to think he can forestall the inevitable.

I am more afraid of not living.

My husband and I have pre-arranged for cremation. We aren’t really picky aboutwhere the ashes are scattered. We really don’t care if we end up in a sort of universal dump for cremains. We both believe this body is a shell for the true us, our eternal soul. Once the body ceases to function, it is just an empty container. These are our beliefs. I certainly am not going to tell you how or what to believe, that is your choice. I expect the same courtesy.

We and others like us, believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ and because of Him, our souls will have eternal life in heaven. there it is, plain and simple. I’m not going to debate this. Whatever anyone else believe or doesn’t believe is truly their choice and I am not going to judge, berate, belittle. Nuff said.

Hope. Hope springs eternal (Alexander Pope). Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings. (Emily Dickinson).   Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…1Peter 1:13

What we leave behind us is important – the love people have felt, help we have given, joy we have shared, laughter, guidance, prayers…. not the money or property.  That has its place of course, but what people who are left behind say about us tells the truth about our life.  My friend’s father had said about him that he took everyone he met into his heart.  Isn’t that lovely?

I went and checked on my flowering quince. Even now, it shelters birds and small animals who seek shelter from the weather and who eat of the food placed beneath it and in feeders around it.  Still and brown, it nurtures.  In a couple of months, it will burst forth into glorious bloom.   Hope!  Now that we speak of dying, shall I have the right to smile?  Oh yes.  Yes, yes, and yes.

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jaklumen
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 16:18:07

    I see you have a picture of cherry blossoms in your header now 🙂

    Are you able to get any fruit from that flowering quince? I planted a pineapple quince not too long ago, because while blossoms are pretty, I wanted more natural pectin sources for canning/preserving (and quince preserves will be nice, too).


  2. dragonlife
    Jan 18, 2014 @ 16:45:45

    This reminds me of the single camelia peeking out of the snow I discovered on the morning of Christmas from my outdoors bath in a hot spring in Yufuin in Kyushu some years ago!


  3. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Jan 19, 2014 @ 11:22:10

    This is a wonderful post. I have little experience with death and generally have not thought much about it, therefore it was a scary experience. I feel I had to go through the process in small steps but I took big ones. Now I am fine. 🙂


  4. Michael R. Dale
    Jan 24, 2014 @ 02:00:05

    Thank you for sharing this. I was struck by your ideas on love they feel congruent with mine. I believe that love is the only thing that is not ephemeral. The only thing that does not die.


  5. Trackback: In Memoriam | kanzen sakura
  6. seeker
    Feb 23, 2014 @ 22:04:01

    I enjoy reading this. Yes, there is always hope and that is something to smile about. And yes, living is scarier than dying. Your father in law must be smiling to you right not. BTW the link on art of war is broken.


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