When I look out of the kitchen window, I get a nice view of the village where I live together with its small church. It’s all set within a rolling backdrop of green hills. And in true tradition, the church has a rustic graveyard with all kinds of old, crooked headstones and stone crosses. Many of the graves date back to Victorian times and anyone stopping to read the inscriptions is reminded of the fragility of life. While some of the humans managed to live to a ripe old age, others didn’t make it beyond childhood or their twenties. The perils of childbirth, disease and poor basic health care all took a heavy toll.
Over the last hundred years or so, humans have managed to conquer a great many diseases and developed all kinds of clever medical procedures. And because of this, many humans have chosen to pigeonhole “death” to keep it out of sight and out of mind. Instead, the fabric of everyday life is laid over it forming a kind of flimsy veneer. And that leads to problems when these humans are suddenly confronted by their own mortality or the passing of someone precious to them. They’re simply not prepared.
I guess it’s different for parrots and other living creatures. We all live with the menace of death in the form of predators, adverse weather conditions, a lack of food and the destruction of our habitat. For us, life and death are very precariously balanced.
Most humans don’t like to think about death at all because it represents the “great unknown.” It serves as a reminder that humanity is not ultimately in control of its’ own fate. Woody Allen once famously said:
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.” And he went on to say: “I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
For many humans, the concept of death leads to awkward questions about whether God the Creator really exists. And if He does, what will He make of us? Should we be afraid?
Well, outside my window in the garden, new life is currently bursting forth. The trees, the flowers, the young birds and the baby rabbits in the pony field. As happens every Springtime, an extraordinary miracle is taking place.
And to me, it seems so very obvious that if the creation of new life can be so miraculous, then death can be miraculous too. Because life and death are forged by the same loving Creator. The same Creator that made each one of us out of tiny microscopic cells. Our very existence is too extraordinary to be true, but here we all are. So why do so many humans find it hard to believe in life after death?
“Life is eternal and love is immortal;and death is only a horizon;and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” (Rossiter Worthington Raymond).
“Death is but the next great adventure.” (J.K. Rowling).
“Each day is preparation for death. By realising this, it helps somehow because what the dying go through today, I will go through tomorrow. Death is nothing except going back to Him, where He is and where we belong.” (Mother Teresa).
“In life, we weep at the thought of death. In death, perhaps we weep atthe thought of life.” (Marilyn Monroe).
Do you think that Heaven is only available to humans? What about parrots and the rest of creation? Those small birds outside that live out their lives in constant fear of the local Sparrowhawk and visiting cats?
What will happen to them when they die? Is this brief, perilous existence all that they have? Not according to Pope Francis!
“One day we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” (Pope Francis).
Thanks to Jesus, death is not the end for us all. It marks the beginning of something very wonderful…
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms…” (John 14:1-2a).