Death: What Lessons Does it Teach Us?
By: Elias Bejjani*

April 11/2009

Far from politics, terrorism, the mid-east crisis, and the current world financial difficulties, I have decided that my Easter editorial, this year, be a thorough and deep personal contemplation on death; this mystery that has puzzled and pre-occupied man since God created him with Eve.

How much of an awakening and spiritual realization would it be if each and every one of us attended a funeral at least once every year, and fully utilized this short yet precious and odd period of time to deeply meditate and contemplate the very human reality of this inevitable and irreversible journey?

During this short, internal procession of great solemnity and silence, from the funeral home to the church, and then to the cemetery, one should mentally and physically relax and release his self, putting aside all of his every day life burdens.

To truly learn and benefit from this spiritual experience, one must temporarily forget who he is, his fortunes, his poverty, all problems that he is encountering, his enemies and friends, physical ailments they he may be suffering from, and marital, or family difficulties he may be going through.

One needs to imagine that his body is so light, so clean, and innocent, and their mind and soul so pure, free of sin with no conflict of any kind or magnitude.

One needs to reminisce and go back in time to the period when he was an innocent child, not yet polluted with human evil deeds and thoughts, hatred, grudges, greed, selfishness and fear.

When one feels that every kind of evil feeling and venomous instinct inside him is numb, he needs to ask himself sincerely and honestly, what this dead person who is now just a cold corpse resting motionless and breathless in the coffin, is going to take with him from this mortal world to whichever world the dead go to?

No matter how rich, powerful, fearless, intelligent, famous, or mighty this dead person was while alive, would he now be able to carry with him any of his riches, or ask any of his beloved to join him in death, and be buried with him in the cemetery?

At this scary, terrifying, contemplative and somber moment, the individual needs to relate with the dead person and accept death, imagining himself actually lying in the casket!

By the end of the funeral procession, and after the coffin has been buried, the dead person who could not take anything with him, becomes just a memory and his body returns back to dust. "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return" Genesis 3:19 19

To be the actual creatures that the almighty God has created in His own image, and to be wise, humble and forgiving, we need to occasionally ask ourselves these simple questions:

Can we not die?
Can we not escape death's inevitable journey?
What can we take with us when leaving this mortal life?

These questions should be asked whenever we are engaged in bloody competitions, conflicts, disputes, grudges, hatred and struggle for power and money.

The one and only answer to all these questions is a definite, NO!

Attending funerals at least twice a year helps us to get back in touch with reality; to know who we are, and where we are going; to wake up and to always remember that God, on judgment day, will judge our deeds, and not the magnitude of our earthly riches, nor our earthly power.

Does any one of us, rich or poor, weak or powerful, sick or healthy, know when the almighty God will reclaim his soul? Definitely not! So let us live each day of our lives as if it were our last. Let us always be ready to face our Creator on the day of judgment with a set of righteous deeds.

While we are celebrating the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus, let us solidify our trust and faith in almighty God, and ask Him to lead our lives and grant us the graces of patience, humbleness, hope, love and forgiveness, so that we can carry with courage our life burdens.

Let us remember in the face of every difficulty and crisis what the Holy Bible teaches us: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (Matthew 11, 28-30).

Death, this mystery that has worried, perplexed and confused man since his first day on earth, has been defeated by Jesus' resurrection and made conceivable by man's mind. We do not die, but sleep on the hope of resurrection!

"Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed", (Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 15 / 51-52).

Happy Easter

*Elias Bejjani
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
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