Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Urns & Outs - May, 2011

This edition of Urns & Outs is a bit more personal, so please indulge me as I open my heart to you, my friends and colleagues.

I recently read the valedictory address by legendary Cremationist Dr. Hugo Erichsen, given during his exit as the president of the Cremation Association of America after serving as its president for over three years. In the address, he related the tale of a grief-stricken mother who came to her religious leader holding the lifeless body of her son and begged for him to be awakened from death. The master nodded gently. “First you must procure a mustard seed. Anyone will gladly give it to you, but it must come from a home in which neither father nor mother, or son nor daughter, or servant nor friend has seen death.” So the woman departed and trudged hopefully from home to home, palace to shack, and everywhere she knocked the mustard seed was forthcoming. But when she asked, “Did a son, daughter, father or mother, friend or servant die in this house?” they all regarded her with boundless surprise and replied: “How foolish of you to ask woman, when so many have departed and but comparatively few remain.” Thus she went from door to door, and received the same response wherever she went. She grew weary and silent. Finally, she retraced her steps back to the master from whose arms she withdrew her darling child. With a brave heart, she carried his body to the funeral pyre.

This story teaches that no one can live life free from the effects of death. Those of us who deal with the grief of others on a daily basis often get to the point where we feel immune to the sting of death, until death becomes personal through one we know and love. We know that death is part of life, and we must realize that death is only a separation of the body from the spirit. That which we know and love the most in our friends and loved ones, the spirit, lives on. Flesh and blood are not materials of the spirit, and it is only these that can die. Knowing and believing this, death loses its horror.

Just last week, I said farewell to a dear friend. His death came suddenly and out of time with what seemed to be the logical order that one would consider for someone of his age. And as I spoke over his casket, just before he was gently committed to the purifying flame, I came to the raw and painful remembrance that death is going to happen to us all. Now I’ve had the opportunity to consider my own life, and I have realized once again that it is often the memories of our lives to the ones we love that give them the most hope and comfort when it’s time to say goodbye.

With that realization, life becomes more virtuous and there is the means to focus on what truly matters on this side of the veil of death. And when my time comes for the veil to be dissolved and I cross to that region where life is eternal and peace everlasting, it is my hope that it is as easy for someone to speak about my life as it was for me to speak about my friend’s.

Until then, may I never take for granted that life is precious, and now is the time to love and live and laugh…

Rest in peace dear Michael. You will always be a bright spot in a world of darkness!

At least, that's my perspective...
~ Jason