Last week, a great man and Mason was laid to rest. I perform Masonic burial services in my area, as there are few of us who know the service these days in my neck of the woods. It is a great honor to do so, but funerals are never easy, and I always find myself solemnly reflecting upon Death. As Masons, we are confronted with symbols reminding us of the universal dominion of Death, and in the funeral service that I preform we are encouraged to “anticipate our approaching fate and be more strongly cemented in the ties of union and friendship; that, during the short space allotted to our present existence, we may wisely and usefully employ our time, and in the reciprocal intercourse of kind and friendly acts, mutually promote the welfare and happiness of each other.”
Many fear what happens to us after we pass through the final veil of darkness; however, I do not feel there is much to fear in Death itself. Many of the world’s major religions have some promise of an afterlife, and this provides comfort and hope for many people. I had a conversation recently, however, with someone who is secular and expressively afraid of what happens after death. Without a belief in an afterlife, one may feel fear of the unknown, or perhaps nihilistic. For those who do not believe in an afterlife, I have this to say: regardless of if you do not subscribe to the belief in an afterlife, we never truly die. We are all made of matter, and that matter existed long before we did. You may have heard “we are all made of stardust,” and this is true. Every natural element was once part of a star that exploded and sent that cosmic dust into the universe. For eons those particles have been recombining and transforming. Everything you eat and drink was once something else, and you, also, will one day provide life for another organism. In this sense, we never die – we only change forms. To me, this is a universal truth that transcends spirituality and secularism, and it is a beautiful cycle if you look at through the right set of eyes. Therefore, there is no reason to fear Death, but instead, be motivated to make the most of life. Like our ancient Grand Master, we may meet an untimely fate, but in the meantime, we can use our time here wisely, to help others.
I will leave you with a few quotes that merit reflection:
"Watch the stars in their courses as though you were accompanying them on their way, and reflect perpetually on how the elements are constantly changing from one to another; for the thought of these things purifies us from the defilement of our earthly existence."
“Faith, Hope and Charity. The greatest of these is CHARITY: for our faith may be lost in sight; hope ends in fruition; but charity extends beyond the grave, through the boundless realms of eternity.”