This past Wednesday morning we left our house in Texas at 6am to begin an 800 mile journey by car to St. Louis, MO. Our destination was the headquarters office of the United Pentecostal Church International, an organization in which I hold ministerial license. We were scheduled to attend some meetings that were to be split up over the course of Thursday and Friday. The meetings had to do with our deputation, orientation, budgets, etc. (Deputation is the act of traveling to other churches in our organization in order to present our missions needs for the country of Bolivia in the hopes of raising our funds.) We were only about three hours into our trip when my cell phone rang. It was the regional director of South America.
After the normal salutations, he asked how we were traveling and when we would arrive. I told him that we were in our car at the moment headed north. After some more small talk, he asked if we could change our schedule and cram everything into Thursday. The reason behind such a move was because the wife of a minister in another state had passed away and some of the men we were scheduled to meet with on both days needed to leave Friday in order to attend the funeral service. I agreed to the change, but it was not like I had a choice in the matter. It was something that we had to do, but it ended up working out better for us in the long run.
However, this schedule change got me to thinking over the next 12 hours of the 15 ½ hours we were on the road about how we are more closely connected to one another than we believe. Not to sound trivial or cold-hearted, but the death of a lady that I did not know ended up changing my plans. I had never met this particular woman or her husband. She had lived in another state a few hundred miles from me, and while I knew of her, I had never seen her in person. Yet her passing, because she knew some of the same people that I knew, affected my life. It was as if her death rippled through the lives of others until it softly touched the shore of my life. This made me think that many times our connectedness is only separated by a few degrees.
Death is an odd part of the life experience and we will all experience it. Either it will be the soft ripples of a passing life that touches ours or it will be a shattering of our peace due to some unforeseen tragedy to someone that is close to us. Maybe it will be the quite final exhale of a loved one as we stand at their side or the departing of our own soul as they stand by us. Sometimes it is only through death that we realize how close we all really are in this life. Death is that constant reminder that we are mere mortals sharing the same breath of life, inhaling and exhaling. Thus we wait for Morta to choose our death and cut the thread of our lives, or at least that is what the Romans believed.
This thought of death brought me to a music CD as odd as that sounds. On The David Crowder Band’s most recent album called Give Us Rest, there is a spoken word track. It opens up with a steady rain falling. Then you hear someone walking on the soggy ground and stepping in puddles of water. When he begins to speak, you realize he is speaking the final words at a graveside service. The track is called A Burial and he speaks some in English and then switches over to Latin. He says the following:
As we the community have gathered here I would like to pose a question: How do you sum up a life in a few words? How do you measure the weight of a soul in a matter of moments? You do not. You cannot. But you can pray for rest, and you can pray for light. And you can remember, you can always remember.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine: Et lux perpetua luceat eis. In memoria æterna erit iustus, Ab auditione mala non timebit. (English translation: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord: And let perpetual light shine upon them. He shall be justified in everlasting memory, And shall not fear evil reports.)
We truly are a “community” and we are more closely connected than any of us could imagine and sometimes only death brings that to light.
Written by James C. Marse. Copyright © 2012.