Life can be a bit of a roller coaster at times…
A recent day was very much like that. One minute I was blessed to share in one of the happiest moments in a person’s life. The joy of the wedding was palpable; in the huge smiles of the family and friends, the even wider smiles of the couple themselves, and the exuberant ululations (zaghareet) that kept firing out of the nave of the Church from all quarters! The lovely couple were listening to every word of the marriage prayers, drinking the spirit of the rite and living the jubilation of this day of their unification in the spirit. The crowns and capes with which they were ornamented made them look truly royal, as befits the children of the King of Kings. With pure and simple hearts they gazed longingly at each other every now and then. No wonder the Bible likens Holy Communion to a marriage feast!
A short while later I was with another family in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital, struggling to help them cope with the imminent death of their mother. She was slipping away right before them, her physical body in tatters and her mind no longer present in the forgetfulness of unconsciousness. She was hardly recognisable as the ravages of disease, and of the valiant attempts to control that disease, showed just how fragile this human tent really is.
It is hard to accept death.
For the bereaved, it leaves behind a sort of numb blankness, an emptiness without reason, a darkness of the soul. Whether it is expected or not, it is never easy for us to accept, for we are too used to getting what we want. Yet here is something that is beyond our control.
And still, for the Christian, there is something that alleviates that agony. The loss is harsh, but the knowledge of the blessing that the departed is about to receive is a great comfort. In departing this mortal earth, in casting off this cage of flesh and bone, the spirit is freed to soar with angels to heights of glory and unimagined joy. The barriers between the creation and the Creator are finally lifted, and the spirit enters the undiluted Light for which she has longed all her existence. How can anyone not rejoice for the departed one they love?
Joy, and sadness. Sadness and joy. I sometimes wonder how we manage not to throw up on this rather extreme rollercoaster. Just don’t eat too much fairy floss…