28 February 2011


When we die, where do we go? Does it matter? Does the soul persist though the body has failed?

Yes, as a Christian, I clearly have a certain core of beliefs regarding death. But Christianity is less clear about the survivors. Some believe in spirits, ghosts. Some believe you can still talk to the dead, wherever they may be. Some believe you must pray for their souls to ensure their entrance into heaven's great country. Some revere the dead as if they themselves could still hear, and speak, and act. Some believe it's just over and there's nothing more to it.

Do I believe the dead live on amongst the living? Yes. But not in the traditional ways, perhaps. The dead live on in each of us that carries their memories. Their stories. Their traditions and hopes. The dead live on genetically, in the people fathered and mothered. A piece of every ancestor lies in us all, and they live on. I call that the spirit, not some floating, vague other-body. The spirit lives in us, in much the way the Holy Spirit can live and act in us, move us, shape us, blow through us.

What do births and deaths have in common? They should both be celebrations of life! Life is fragile, ephemeral, precious; but lives are meant to be lived! And thank God we can live them together, with family and friends, with people we love, who can carry on a flame and pass it on to the next and so on.

Death is part of life. We know this; we should accept this. We should count each everyday blessing. And we should raise up the dead, remembering them, and letting their spirits live on in and through us.

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