Sunday, April 03, 2005

Much Afraid

I feel that I should mention the Pope's passing, despite the fact that I'm not Catholic. It's unfortunate, but he did live a long life, and people who are really close to God seem to welcome death.

I was thinking about death today as we drove past a cemetery in the rain. I asked Mother if she had ever read Catcher in the Rye, and she said she hadn't. I started telling her about that unbelievably moving scene in which Holden describes all the cemetery visitors going inside when it begins to rain, while all he can think about is his dead brother Allie getting rained on.

Death is terrifying. Does anyone else find it terrifying? I suppose some people are so sure in their beliefs that they don't, but no matter how much I try, there is still such an uncertainty. If you're going to be absolutely honest (many won't), no one knows what happens after death. When religious people say to me, "I know..." I say, "No, you don't know, you believe. There's a big difference."

"We're Late" by W. H. Auden

Clocks cannot tell our time of day
For what event to pray
Because we have no time, because
We have no time until
We know what time we fill,
Why time is other than time was.
Nor can our question satisfy
The answer in the statue's eye:
Only the living ask whose brow
May wear the Roman laurel now;
The dead say only how.

What happens to the living when we die?
Death is not understood by Death; nor You, nor I.


Tom said...

My thoughts were formed by 3 things; a friend was clinically dead and came back, a book by Dr Custance, and writings of Campolo. My friend had a pretty interesting death experience that caused me to look at similar stories by other people. Custance writes often about time and matter and his theories on death. Campolo gave other views but all were from a spiritual perspective.

I think when we die that there is a conscience and seamless transition from body to out of body. I also see time stop being a factor and that transition may appear to be taking place over moments when it could be hundreds of years. Your death and those that proceeded you all transition at the same apparent moment until God receives all.

Anonymous said...

What was life like before you were born? That is how I imagine death to be.
- Jim

RJ said...

It seems to me that non-existence isn't particularly terrifying. The only terrifying thing would be some form of eternal torment.

I don't believe in a God that would create Hell.

P.S. I vote for keeping the spiritual focus.

sojourness said...

Tom, do you want to share your friend's story?

Jim, your comment reminded me of Socrates...what he said about having existed before birth was so interesting.

RJ, the uncertainty frightens me, not just the prospect of eternal torment. Thanks for the vote; well noted.