I came in this afternoon to find our house help drenched in tears. My entry followed her receiving the news of the passing on of her mother. Having stayed with her as part of our household for a number of years now, we feel the loss as much as she does.
Every death robs humankind of one of their own. John Donne in his Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, “Meditation XVII” says “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main….. any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Many eulogies would tell the tale of the that person who no longer is. The words may be those of a bitter relative with all the negativity, or the sweet words and memories of one who is pained at the loss of a loved one. Regardless of the words, one, maybe two, three people or more lose a part of themselves – “ding!!” – the bell has tolled yet again. Time is up and we have to deal with the aftermath as the of the storm, pick up our pieces and face another day.
“Is this it?” we ask, “will we never see her again?”, “will we meet him?” – more questions than answers all driven by the memories within us.
Our Christian faith provides the answer to some of the questions. Paul in his letter says “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting. For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ”
And there we derive our hope which can never be taken away. The hope that soothes the pain. The hope that raises us up to face another day even as bell tolls are heard all around us.