Without Death There Can Be No Life
Last week was an amazing opportunity to hear prophetic voices as we gathered here to listen to Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow at the Seminar in Theological Education. I find that with each passing day I am processing a little more of what was shared.
There is far to much for me to share in just one moment of wondering but there are a couple of things/ phrases that jumped out for me. Michael uses the word Reality as others might use the word God to describe what he knows to be true about creation and energy and connection and life.
God’s/Reality’s native tongue is facts and every perspective and view from within creation constitutes God/Reality’s view.
We are an expression of the universe and what we do to the world we do to ourselves.
Without Death There Can Be No Life
For me, what Michael shared highlighted what I have also known to be true. We are rooted in, and connected with, all that is. Our hope as the human race can be found in returning to right relationship with creation, understanding the universe story and knowing that death is a sacred necessity without which there can be no life.
As one whose ministry seems to have found a home being present with the dying and making sense of death itself, I found Michael’s and Connie’s words around death touched my soul and also named what I know to be true. Death is, in fact, a gift. Connie wrote the following Litany called “The Gifts of Death” which sums it up.
“The Gifts of Death”
A Responsive Reading in Celebration of Death
by Connie Barlow (March 2005)
1. Without the death of stars, there would be no planets and no life.
2. Without the death of creatures, there would be no evolution.
1. Without the death of elders, there would be no room for children.
2. Without the death of fetal cells, we would all be spheres.
1. Without the death of neurons, wisdom and creativity would not blossom.
2. Without the death of cells in woody plants, there would be no trees.
1. Without the death of forests by Ice Age advance, there would be no northern lakes.
2. Without the death of mountains, there would be no sand or soil.
1. Without the death of plants and animals, there would be no food.
2. Without the death of old ways of thinking, there would be no room for the new.
1. Without death, there would be no ancestors.
2. Without death, time would not be precious.
ALL: What, then, are the gifts of death?
1. The gifts of death are Mars and Mercury, Saturn and Earth.
2. The gifts of death are the atoms of stardust within our bodies.
1. The gifts of death are the splendors of shape and form and color.
2. The gifts of death are diversity, the immense journey of life.
1. The gifts of death are woodlands and soils, ponds and lakes.
2. The gifts of death are food: the sustenance of life.
1. The gifts of death are seeing, hearing, feeling — deeply feeling.
2. The gifts of death are wisdom, creativity, and the flow of cultural change.
1. The gifts of death are the urgency to act, the desire to fully be and become.
2. The gifts of death are joy and sorrow, laughter and tears.
ALL: The gifts of death are lives that are fully and exuberantly lived, and then graciously and gratefully given up, for now and forevermore. Amen
My prayer this day
My prayer this day for all of us is
that we might embrace life, connected and rooted in mother earth;
that we might recognize our dependence upon all that is, in order for us to grow, change and become; and
that we might be covered in grace as we live and die and live again.
© 2019 Rev. Valerie Peyton Kingsbury. All rights reserved.