Over the past few weeks a number of friends and colleagues have experienced the death of someone close to them.
Whether the person is famous or a solitary unknown, whether the room is crowded at death or the person dies alone, a rich and complex life is coming to a close. Everything has changed.
Rearranging the furniture of our homes and lives is one of the ways that humans make room for death, in much the same way as we have to shift to accommodate new life. There are remarkable similarities in the two events, so when a man was dying on Christmas morn it seemed important to notice the intricate connectedness:
A man was dying on Christmas morn
angels, fresh from the joy of Bethlehem
felt the pain in the place where he lay
concerned, they swung low
voices softening, chanting now
the rhythm of life that destabilises
yet makes us whole.
O God, breathed the man
aware of the holy presence.
It is finished then?
Not entirely, said Gabriel
(wise beyond reasoning)
reaching for the essence
that made the man human.
O God, breathed the man’s love
aware of movement, a flutter of wings
stirring the ties that bind
intricate, intense, intimate.
Leave him, she implored.
But angel voices rose on high
Gloria, Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Image: The Angel of Grief, Protestant Cemetery Rome.