‘We fear death, as children fear to go into the dark, yet it is as natural to die as to be born.’
There is a part of us that understands the logic of Francis Bacon writing in his essay, Of Death. Death, like birth, is a transformation, a moving from all that we think of as familiar into the realms of the unknown. Death is a surrendering of ourself in trust in God, but is always a going into the unknown. Perhaps this is exactly what we fear: we don’t know, and we can’t imagine how it will be when our time on earth is done and we are afraid of being separated from those we love.
At All Saints’ Day and on All Souls’ Day we rejoice with all those who have gone before us. All Saints’ tide lasts for three days, beginning with All Hallows’ Eve at which time we begin to reflect on the holy women and men of God, then follows All Saints’ on which we remember the lives of all the saints and martyrs from the history of the Church, and finally All Souls’ which is a more intimate remembering of family and loved ones who have supported us on our journey. At the time of All Saints’ we recognise the darkness and dangers of the world, but we also look to the light of Christ in the world. Whilst it may at times seem like we are saturated with darkness, God does not leave his creation completely in the dark. In every age and every culture people have seen and heard something of God’s light and love.
In the Gospels, death means Gethsemane; the pain, loneliness and agony of the Cross. Death for us will not be like that but it will still be the most difficult journey we have to make and may well test every ounce of courage and patient faith that we possess. But dust we are, and to dust we shall return. Yet the Christian faith teaches us that whilst death is painful and significant, it does not have the final word. Death is not the end. That is the promise of the Resurrection Faith and the hope we share with all those we love who have gone before us on the journey to the God who created us.