Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thumbing Your Nose @ Death

When I was a teenager, my girlfriend and I would stick out our tongues every time we drove by a cemetery - I suppose our way of stickin' it to death. I'm not really sure why we did this, but it did elicit some kind of risque feeling, maybe like we were mooning the preacher when he wasn't looking. Of course, now I'm the preacher...

At some point, something happened that made me think I shouldn't be doing that. Somehow I got this feeling that death was somehow going to stick it to me if I didn't watch myself.

Every day since we've moved, I drive by this very large cemetery on the way to the church building. Somehow Nancy and I got on the subject of how we wanted to be buried and what we wanted to have happen to our bodies. Do you ever have those conversations, and then are a little freaked out by them? I don't know why it bothers me to talk about it - I'm not really all that worried about dying myself. But for some reason I don't even like saying the word "dead". I much prefer the euphemisms such as "passed away", "no longer with us", "moved on". I've grown out of liking phrases such as "kicked the bucket" (what in the world does that mean, anyway?).

My dual feelings on this perplexes me. I'm really not worried about my own death, as long as I feel like I'm giving it all I got. Maybe it is just a more healthy understanding that our time here is so short. What bothers me more is that the time that I do have is slipping so rapidly between my fingers. The time with the kids, laughing and playing. The time with my wife, most everything we do, except maybe when she is being annoying like hanging over my shoulder when I'm cooking, except even those times are good. And the memories are fading. Jonathan as a baby. I can barely remember holding Autumn when she was little like she was my doll and I was never letting her go, and her just kind of barely hanging on like she was independent, but still wanted that touch (even at two). Friends. Moments to myself. Memories.

Death Be Not Proud
by John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

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Anonymous said...

Since my recent marriage, I have become more conscientious of mortality. I guess every time we take on responsibility for another this lesson is brought home for us.

On a lighter (yet still related) note: when I was a youth minister in Oregon, we took the youth group on a weekend retreat. Unbeknownst to me, the boys in my youth group decided that the weekend would not be complete until each one had mooned me. Somehow, between Friday night and Sunday morning, they managed to accomplish their goal.

LB said...

Yo! Found your blog through the grapevine... Thought I'd float our blog your way, its


Now we can keep up w/ each others adventures.

Matthew said...

Good poem.