November is that traditional time of year when we remember our dead. In the world of nature November is a bleak wet and windswept month when the short evenings and the chilly mornings can be somewhat downbeat and even depressing. The luxuriant foliage of trees and gardens is shedding, and the colours of nature recede toward the bleakness of winter. And yet even from the slow death of nature, a new beauty emerges.
A walk through Lucan Demesne through to St. Catherine's Park offers a feast of vibrant colours of russet reds, hues of brown, tans and magnificent gold. Even the decay of nature holds a splendid display which creates a canvas that invites us to sit and contemplate.
What makes winter bearable is the promise of springtime. Experience has taught us that winter will pass. Cold and dark mornings will yield to bright sunny days that will stretch long into the evening hours, and when Spring begins to work its magic new life will begin to sprout all around us. Trees that seem dead and lifeless will put out fresh shoots, colour will return through fresh sprouted bulbs and shrubs, such is the wondrous cycle of the world of nature.
Bleakness knows many forms in human experience, but perhaps the most difficult to bear is that which accompanies the death of someone we love. We have all stood at a graveside or in a cremation chapel taking our leave of someone who was part of our life. It's not an easy experience and it doesn't end there, it's usually the beginning of a process of grief, a journey with no fixed timescale and one with many ups and downs.
Our Christian faith offers us hope at a time of loss, the blessed assurance that as with the world of nature, death will yield to newness of life. What seems so hopeless and bleak will be transformed.
The words of Jesus himself offer reassurance and comfort at a dark time, words like 'Do not let your heart be troubled, trust in God still and trust in me. There are many rooms in my father's house ....' (John 14:1)
Jesus opens up for us the reality of eternal life with God. Because of his life, death and resurrection heavens gates are opened to all who believe in him, and that gives real hope, the kind of hope that can ease sadness and bring reassurance.
So in remembering our dead this November let's cherish that hope, that like winter our sadness will pass and yield to an openness to that new life that Jesus has promised. Let's draw comfort from the knowledge that our dead are safe in the arms of the Lord, and we will meet them again. Just as the promise of Springtime makes winter bearable, so may the promise of Eternal Life make the death of our loved ones.
St. Mary's Lucan