After Her Death
a poem by Mary Oliver
I am trying to find the lesson
For tomorrow. Matthew something.
Which lectionary? I have not
forgotten the Way, but, a little,
the way to the Way. The trees keep whispering
peace, peace, and the birds
in the shallows are full of the
bodies of small fish and are
content. They open their wings
so easily, and fly. So. It is still
I open the book
which the strange, difficult, beautiful church
has given me. To Matthew. Anywhere.
Holy Saturday always seems like the longest day of Holy Week--Jesus has died, but has not risen, and we are left in the aftermath of death while anticipating a celebratory tomorrow. It seems wrong to treat the day like any other Saturday, filling it with errands until it is time to go to the vigil. Decorating and shopping for Easter dinner will, by necessity, compose part of my day. But, setting up for celebration doesn't really seem appropriate. Continuing on as if nothing has happened just doesn't sit well with my soul.
Yet, the birds are flying outside and the sunshine beckons us into another day. We humans seem to be filled with an inexplicable urge for forward movement--and part of that movement is our audacious desire to live despite the reality of death. When I was working at the hospital I was occasionally asked if I wanted to have children even tho' I was witness to so many horrific deaths. The answer was, and is, yes. The benefits of loving will always outweigh the risk of losing. Yes, I know that those we love die (before or after we ourselves do), but if I want to defeat death I must love in the face of its reality.
So, what will you do today in the face of reality? How will you defeat death? How will you embrace the "strange, difficult and beautiful" truth of our finite lives?