An Obscene Word

Death is the greatest terrorist! So feared an enemy is death that we avoid thinking about it, unless forced to do so as when attending a funeral. We even find the word death unspeakable, and so replace died with “passed.” In prayer, we refer to the dead as the “deceased” or “departed.”

When someone dies in parts of Africa they don’t say they “have passed” or “departed,” but rather that they “have arrived!” This beautiful expression is saturated with the belief that their beloved dead have finally arrived at the destination toward which they have been traveling all their lives. Upon hearing of someone’s death, our Muslim brothers and sisters say, “We have come from God, and we return to God, and we are on this journey each day of our life.” Regardless of our age or health, you and I are at this very moment on a journey back to God, and none of us knows if today is the day of our arrival. As you pass one milestone after another, live your homeward journey wisely and passionately.

Inspired, I squeeze the last drop of joy
out of each day, not because I’ll die,
but because You have made life’s joys
appetizers of the delight of arriving.

From Book of Wonders by Ed Hays


Prayer action suggestion:
This week, live each day as if it will be the day of your arrival. Greet it and put yourself into it fully.

Explore this NCR special report with recent articles on the topic of immigration and family separation.


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