Monday, October 24, 2011

The Road to Death: Alleluia

Friday night after my party I sent a Tweet that said, "Even at the grave - with all our grief - we make the song of Resurrection, proclaiming death isn't the end: alleluia, alleluia, alleluia." This will likely sound familiar to Episcopalians; it's from the burial office...sort of. People who know me well know that the original, "Even at the grave we make our song: alleluia, alleluia, alleluia" is maybe my favorite line in the Prayer Book.

A few weeks ago while listening to Tavener's "Song for Athene" I relayed in a few electronic ways something to the effect of "Even slowly or quietly 'alleluia' is exclaimed." For humanity, death is an important part of life. Without death there cannot be birth. For Christians death isn't the end, though. In dying and rising Jesus trampled down death with death and to those in the tomb bestowed life.

That's not to be Pollyanna about how it affects us, though. We miss people whom we love, and have been important to us. My cousin Caroline has been posting on Facebook today memories of Grandma that gave me flashbacks: frozen swiss cake rolls and empty shampoo bottles in the tub. Grandma has written me more mail than probably anyone else. Cards at birthdays and Christmas, goodie money when leaving Vernon for home. She's been an important part of my life.

One of the things helping me cope is the Episcopal funeral service though. People may think it morbid or macabre that I love funerals, but I think they're a time when we practice and say again what we might believe: death is not the end. It's like celebrating Easter for an individual. We pray for their resurrection to in faith and celebrate that death has lost its sting. I don't think my words are coming through clearly, though.

For me it's not about when we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be. That may help some people. Or maybe that's exactly what it is but it's not how I think about it. For me it's about Jesus, not rewards, other than being continually drawn into unity with God. That's what's helping me cope. All Saints Day and All Faithful Departed are my favorite days of the year, and I think it's because in my brain we're continuing Easter for people we've known personally.

We call them to mind and remember that because of God's work in Christ death no longer has a hold on us. In being joined to Christ in our baptisms we are joined to the Resurrection then. We grieve, but our grief doesn't have the final word.


The Road to Death: Not in Control

My grandma is dying.

I'm doing okay, and appreciate support but at if you're finding out this way I'd appreciate quite support and prayers from a distance. I've reached out and people are checking in on me and helping me process. Last Saturday Grandma had another stroke and things weren't good. She started hospice care

Friday night I got a text from a cousin (and later my mom) that grandma had started declining. The hospice nurse said nothing was imminent, but Grandma became the first on the list for someone to get a twenty-four hour hospice nurse. I mindfully ate my dinner and thought about what going home would mean and if I needed to yet. I checked Delta's bereavement stuff. Then I went to a party.

I decided last week that I'd go home when Mom called or texted that I need to. She's down there and knows the best time for that, so I'm trusting her. Friday night at dinner I got that I'm not in control of this situation. I can't fix it. I can't control what happens, so I have to keep living my life.  I keep praying for grandma (Rose) as she journeys to death and for all of us as we journey with her.

Worrying over if I should go down or when won't fix anything. Worrying about that she's going to die won't make her not die. Death is a part of life, and I've seen death in my family and in professional settings. Knowing that it's coming, for me, is making easier. I don't know when it will happen, but I'm not anxiously waiting for it. I'm not in control and just have to wait for the word.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Laziness, Tax Breaks, and Social Assistance

A Facebook friend of mine posted a picture a few minutes ago of children trick-or-treating. The adult whose doorbell they've wrung says to them, "Look how much candy you have! I'm going to take half and give it to the kids too lazy to go trick or treating themselves!" One of the children thinks, "Oh crap, a democrat."

This friend found his amusing, but I don't think it is. I don't like it for a number of reasons, starting with that it drastically simplifies things. The second reason is that it's based on a notion of the privileged that the poor are lazy, and that that's the only reason anyone would need government assistance.  I don't like that it assumes that money "taken" away from people only goes to social assistance when the defense budget is huge!

Finally, it doesn't seem very compassionate. This person is a very nice person with good ties with my family, and she's a Christian. I have a hard time writing off a whole group of people whose lives we don't understand. We spend more on war than helping people have life. Taxes aren't just for social assistance, either; they give us roads and schools and pay educators' salaries. They go to research so that really cool things can happen in science. They're currently going to go to attorneys who will defend discrimination.

This picture also only talks about taxes, but it doesn't talk about how not everyone pays all the tax that they could; some people get help from the government in the form of social assistance, but some get it in refunds and tax credits. Families with children aren't seen as lazy when they check the box and claim their kids as a tax deduction. Choose your poison of tax deduction, the government is helping and they aren't seen as lazy.

I'm tired of lack of compassion posts. I'm also tired of over-simplified posts. I think that most of the people on my Facebook page who complain about the potential of higher taxes wouldn't actually be affected by tax proposals I hear talked about, where those of greater mean contribute more to the welfare of society. That's not a radically new idea, either.

Abundant life isn't just for the 1%. We are the 99%.