I recently heard some monks weeping outside the gate of their monastery saying that it was like watching their beloved departed mothers leave for graves, mothers who have exactly died. Never before in my life have I shed tears so quickly. In the world there is suffering and mourning, but never before has there been such deep cries of grief.
The news of the spread of death is spreading around the world and the few relatives who remain in this world are doing their best to make sense of it all, as well as trying to make sense of those that have left before them. The pain and sadness is compounded with the grief of the loss of loved ones and sometimes mental anguish is just a short passes for the grief to stick around.
Life is full of ups and downs, perfection and imperfections. Sometimes we lose our loved ones in the process of life, either sudden or long anticipated. We lost everything when our mother died suddenly a few years ago. The very spears that pierced her heart have been gnarled and engravings on her stone are still fresh, 22 years later. When we lose a spouse, friends, a job or some otherkeneto our lives, it’s also a heavy burden to carry. When we lose a child it’s likewise hard, if not impossible, to make peace with the trade offs that we made, especially if that child is young. When we lose financial instability, it truly is a bitter pill to swallow. And though we live in a complex world, with a highly developed communications system, the simple message of “God’s love is for all” is not easily intelligible to an uneducated mind.
In the midst of this ongoing battle between the living and the dead, I would ask the monk to remember that there is a spiritual solution. St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians:
“For what agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
But the spirit of God also has a partner, one who is more powerful and mysterious than anyone or anything on the earth. St. Francis of Assisi once had a dream where the little flowers were speaking to him. He opened his eyes and suddenly he was able to read their message.
“Dear Friends, did you have a dream yesterday? Where did you see the roses? Do not be afraid; they are the roses of paradise. And the smell of the roses will flora you in the most delightful way. We want you to have them, just as much as in the case of the roses of paradise.”
The power of the roses we know so well do not exist without their creator, St. Francis. Today, St. Francis is more well known in the West as a mystic, his life hidden in the shadows, a kind of secrecy that continues even today. But the life of St. Francis of Assisi is really an amazing example of the Christian life. It is really an example of the spirituality of poverty. The life of poverty that he wanted to lead, although he did not have to, though he chose not to.
Poverty is not only the indention of lack, but also lack of meaning. Our life is empty, meaningless, and everywhere the pleasures of life are denied, in the work place, socially, politically and economically, the life of the Church is in danger. We have lost the simple truth that for each person on earth, the life of the Church is a most important goal and the most joyful and fulfilling of existence.
This is why the most joyful person is not the one that has the biggest bank balance, but rather the one that has the greatest love for God and his fellow man. This is why the most sorrowful person is not the one that owns the most property, but rather the one who knows the most love for others.
We all lose someone, this is why funerals are so important, to prepare our souls for another journey, another life, another example. It may be the destiny of a person, or it may be that a person may have led you to this path, and helped you to find your way here. It may be that a person may be your guru, your teacher, or a person may be the fruit of a particular teaching and yet remain a seed.But the vital force that helps us find our way is the presence of God, it is Christ, it is the Spirit that helps us to grow and helps us to come this way.
The presence of God is important to all of us, and it is not different for the spiritual or the religious. We may not experience this presence physically on earth, but we can feel it deeply in our heart.