United by his death
In John’s account of the death of Jesus there is a poignant scene where he unites his mother with the disciple with whom he had a unique love. After his death Jesus has decided that she will go to the disciple’s home.
This is another in a series for Before the ending of the day where I am considering each of the last words of Jesus as he died on the cross. I wonder what meaning they may have for our own contemplation of death and dying.
It is a sad fact that sometimes it is only after a death that something fruitful can happen.
In the UK it has been Mother’s Day when it is proposed by card makers and restaurants up and down the land that ‘mums’ be celebrated for all their good works. They deserve no less.
The Church too joins in with its earlier version of ‘Mothering Sunday’. Often disregarding its origins deep in early medieval reverence of Mother Church many churches applaud the fact of motherhood whilst acknowledging maybe not always convincingly that for many women in our culture motherhood does not define their character or purpose.
But for Mary that was the case. She is known only as the mother of Jesus and at the end of his life he discharges his duty of care toward his mother. She has a home to go to.
“Look after your mother”. The words of my own father, speaking like many others I imagine as he approached the farewell he could do nothing to prevent. A reminder that the departing do not necessarily lose their concern for this world as they move toward the next.
Today allied to our shameless idolatry of the nuclear family which by definition does not include grandparents together with our mindless obedience to the cult of the individual we may defiantly declare that the dead cannot control the future.
But in one sense they always will.
Absence creates space. They leave a gap. It necessitates a response. It invites adjustment. When a person is no longer present their circle of relationships has to accommodate the change. How often I have noticed a person who is moving on from the immediate grief after their loved has died; may change where they go, who they meet and what they count as important.
All so during such times new things may be seen in the one who has left.
Sometimes it is not until no more can be said nor done that more can be said and done!
We might see more in the one we can no longer see. And poignantly find there is something we would like to have asked or said.
Can the dying have any responsibility in this? In that we are all on the way to our death – yes.
Preparation for our own dying is not to be left to the time of dying.
It might be too hard for some to consider but we are all walking in the shadow of death. It is defining of moment of our life. Once lived we can neither add to nor take away from our life. We should prepare for our ending well and not simply by having a funeral plan or an effective pension. Such preparation may include a time away, a holiday which should not put off, a gift that must given or a conversation that needs to be had. Not all of this may be easy but our time of departure might be nearer than we are ready to accept.
In the Psalm for Today (34:17) it is written
The Lord is near the broken-hearted,
And saves the crushed in spirit.
You might like to spend a few moments with these words and through imagination or prayer join any who seek companionship in their sorrow. Do not let absence in body or spirit be a barrier. Let the Lord draw you together.