Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Dying Christian to His Soul by Alexander Pope

From zaazaa777

Vital spark of heav’nly flame!
Quit, O quit this mortal frame:
Trembling, hoping, ling’ring, flying,
O the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond Nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life.

Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister Spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes; it disappears!
Heav’n opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring!
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O Grave! where is thy victory?
O Death! where is thy sting?

After laying a dear friend to rest yesterday, I found this poem to be a comfort. 
I'm reflecting this morning on the funeral and the importance it plays in our grieving. This funeral was held at our church rather than in a funeral home, something that is becoming increasingly rare. When I was a little girl, nearly all the funerals I remember were held in a church. What blessed me about yesterday's church funeral was the personal touches:  familiar hymns sung by familiar voices, home grown roses, a bountiful luncheon prepared by loving hands. I've often experienced a pang of regret for families who are making final arrangements for a loved one without ever having forged a place in a community of faith. It leaves a hollow spot to hire people to take care of the details.  A church family provides a huge network of support at life's extremity and I'm so grateful for the cords of love that bind us together.