Dear St. James Santee Family and Friends,
“Media vita in morte sumus” – In the midst of life we are in death –is the title and first line of a Latin antiphon probably originating in France around 750 AD. Luther made use of it as did our reformer, Thomas Cranmer, and it appears as an antiphon in the Book of Common Prayer. It certainly expresses well the sense of sudden dislocation we feel when someone we love has died.
In times of shock and grief, life and time itself seem to go on pause. Quite often this happens in a sudden way. In the silence, one becomes aware of the way the light is falling or of the sound of birds singing around us. Time has slowed.
Gradually, though, this gives way to the sense that life has gone on after all – babies are still being born, the buzz of classroom learning continues, factories still are producing and the mail is still being delivered. At this point, we find ourselves drawn back to life itself and the necessity of choosing to live.
The choice to re-embrace time and life can be made more easily when our hope for the future is glimpsed. John Donne, English divine and writer (of “No man is an island” fame) contemplated mortality and hope at length. Below is a passage I have found especially helpful in these past weeks of grieving the death of my father. It is from his Mediation 27… (Emphasis mine)
“….all mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.”
I look with hope to the day when all of the scattered pages are gathered and for grace-filled eternity spent in that “library where every book shall lie open to one another.” Until that blessed day, my prayer is that we will love one another very, very well in the time we are given.