Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Life and Death

Today I learned of the death of another classmate, Frankie Kannady Taylor,  from the class of 1959.  He husband Jake and son Steve were with her at the time of her death--a blessing in the midst of sorrow. 


 Having just read the uplifting blogs about the Chilean earthquake, this news, although not unexpected, caused a contrast in my feelings.  We all know that physical death will come to each of us.  And we know that the most important legacies of our lives are the memories that those who know us will have in their hearts when we are gone.


I won't speak here of the memories Frankie leaves behind--each of us knows them very well. The words of Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi express the competing emotions that I feel as my classmates pass on.


“It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer.  I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.”  Philippians 1:20-24 (NRSV)

As my emotions compete for supremacy I feel the need to share a poem I wrote several years ago.  For those read it and remember it from the previous blog site, I apologize.  It still sums up my feelings today.

   Thanatopsis Revisited

 

He sits alone on the porch swing

shoulders hunched against the cold.

Softly he starts to sing.

He knows he has grown old.

 

He was a good man, strong but quiet,

full of life and fun.

Now he nears the end; the long fight

Is over--the race now run.

 

“Remember our first kiss—“

He pauses to think.

“My life was full of bliss.”

His head begins to sink.

 

“Our wedding night brought pleasure

in a little country town.”

He mulls on this, his treasure.

While his head continues to bend down.

 

“Three children came to us to live.

They changed our life so much.

For we promised them we’d give---“

His head and knees here touch.

 

“Strong and able, they all now

raise their own offspring—“

His body sags down low

and he starts again to sing.

 

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound—“

in a voice so soft and low

“I once was lost but now am found—“

He prepares himself to go.

 

“You went to heaven before me

and with God you now reside.

I’m coming to thee.”

His body starts to slide.

 

His body lies by the swing,

the clay is growing cold.

His soul, hallelujah, begins to sing

          in the place where no one grows old.

2 Comments:

At March 2, 2010 at 5:47 PM , Blogger colin said...

So live that when thy summons comes to join
That innumerable caravan which moves to that mysterious realm
Where each shall take his chamber
in the silent halls of death......

 
At March 2, 2010 at 9:40 PM , Blogger Kathy Bain Dunn said...

How special that I was drawn to your words tonight, for today we celebrate the life of my brother-in-law Jim Hall! I'm not sure if they celebrate birthdays in heaven - I'm really counting on that part about "never grow old!!" But I will still celebrate his birth and his influence on my life!

 

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