Monday, November 1, 2010

Elegy for the ancestors

The twilight of age gives way to death, and loss becomes the center of our lives in the spaces between. It is important to remember though, that grief in its time will also pass away. Those who have gone on before us may have abandoned their bodies, but their memory remains. They remain with those of us who knew them, who loved them, and whose lives they touched.

For what is remembered, lives.

The road ahead is long, and those who walk along it are no strangers to pain. Loss and separation are antithetical to us as social animals, yet death itself is no more abhorrent than being born or growing old. For in the end it is not death, but rather, the seeming finality of that "last separation", which is at the center of our grief. I think back to the ancients and their perspective; and for all our "advancements", those who came before us in all their "superstition", did not treat death as an aberration, but understood it as part of the process of living, if the final act therein.

I am not certain what comes next, though I do have my opinions on the matter.

I honour the dead this day,
I give thanks and praise
to those who came before me:
It was they who fought
but who also had peace
It was they who suffered
but who also had joy
It was they who sacrificed
but who also prospered
It was they who died
but who also lived

If I am able to live as they did
with honour and courage
with wisdom and justice
with hospitality and truth
when on the last day
I am to stand before them
in their hallowed halls
and be asked what did you do
I can answer with pride
that I lived as they lived