Ready for what is next?

In the photograph shown we see what looks like a boat with rowers.  The reality is it is a coffin, one of the many I saw in the National Museum of Funeral History, in Texas.  Coffins of such a creative design are common in certain African cultures.

Why talk about coffins?  I talk about the coffin because, as a pastor, part of my mission is to help people focus on the end – OUR END.  Those who designed this, and the many other variations, use the coffin as a way of expressing their thoughts, hopes and dreams.  They use the coffin as a way of saying something about themselves and their understanding of what happens to us humans at death.

Regardless of our faith journey, we will all experience death.  How we approach our death, is an indication of how we approach our life.  Different rituals and customs can help those left behind when someone dies; they help ease any pain or loss.  Some families try to avoid everything and pretend like the person never existed.  Some families have a celebration.  I knew a person years ago, who had an old six-sided pine box coffin of the shape we see in the old western movies, standing on end.  He had shelves put in it and used it as his bookcase, filling it with his beloved books and stories.  Thus, his resting place was filled with his favorite memories.

Often in our culture we tend to put off or ignore the reality of our ultimate demise, at least until we get a disease that will kill us sooner than we might like.  In addition, how many of us die each day “unexpectedly” leaving someone else to figure out what to do with our corpse, during a period of emotional trauma for them?  While we may not feel comfortable thinking or planning for what happens at our death, it can be a tremendous aid to our families and friends if we take the time to provide them with our desires.  As a pastor, I have seen many families destroyed, torn apart with fights and disagreements when the deceased did not leave clear directions.

As we move about our daily schedule and busy lives, perhaps we can take a moment here and there to reflect.  Hopefully our reflection will lead us to where God is calling us to be.  What kind of experience will we leave for those whom we leave behind?  Will we be ready?

Author: yuengerwv

Retired Catholic Priest

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