November, season of fallen leaves………
There’s something very beautiful about this time of year. A November stroll on the woodland walk in St. Catherine’s Park is nothing like the lush days of summer. Now the colours are golden and russet brown, and the heavens can be glimpsed through the once full green canopy of overhead abundance. It’s brighter there now as the light can penetrate bringing a crispness and clarity to the walkers below. In another few weeks all colour will be gone and the sleep of winter well under way. It’s such a fitting time of year to remember our dead. We miss the vibrancy and colour they brought to our lives, and maybe even the shelter and protection we once enjoyed in their shadow. We miss the way they made us feel more alive in their presence and brought out the best in us; but the time came when we had to let them go.
We have all felt that hollow emptiness as we stood by the grave of someone we loved, that awful feeling that somehow a part of us had died too. It’s an inevitable part of our human journey, learning to let go and say goodbye. Grief is somehow the price we pay for love. The famous Christian writer C.S. Lewis expressed it thus “the tears and loss that I now feel is the love we once shared.” Like no other human experience, the death of someone we cherished leaves us naked and vulnerable and cuts to the heart of what it is to be human.
One of the most revealing line in the Gospels must surely be that of John 11:30 “Jesus wept”, he wept at the death of Lazarus his friend. It reveals to us that he entered fully into the human condition even to extent of sharing that unique pain and hurt that visits us when someone we love dies. Indeed God was to embrace death itself when he surrendered his only begotten to its painful clutches. Through the brutal manner of Christ’s death our God stands in solidarity with every human experience of pain, suffering and rejection. In his acceptance of death Christ went on to rob it of its power and transform it into a gateway to eternity.
“Death, where is your victory, where is your sting” 1Corinthians 15:55
Experience has taught us that winter will pass, colour will return we will experience again all that seemed gone from us. The death of Christ was a demonstration of God’s unbounded love that same love called him from death to new life, as it does for all who believe in him.
So yes, we fell the bleakness of loss and mourn what we no longer share but our sadness is infused with hope, the hope that comes from Jesus himself. “Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God still and trust in me……..I go to prepare a place for you, and I will return to take you with me……” John Ch.14
May those who have gone before us rest in God’s peace.
Fr. Philip Curran