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April 8, 2012

“But what makes a dead person different from someone who becomes serious and goes into seclusion to quietly consider the answer to something that has tormented him for a long time? Maybe the dead are the people who had withdrawn from everything in order to reflect upon life.” (Rainer Maria Rilke, Stories of God)

“The grace of Easter is a great silence, an immense tranquility and a clean taste in your soul.” (Thomas Merton)

Waiting for the fourth Easter since Don left, I think of what meaning Easter may have for me.

I immediately ask if Easter has any meaning without death. It sounds like a rhetorical question, but much of the time we celebrate Easter’s promise of resurrection and eternal life without giving due attention to death. Perhaps we hear so much about death that it becomes a mere word or image that comes and disappears in a flash, if not from our eyes then from our consciousness. For many, thoughts of death don’t entice us to linger.

I suggest that we cannot value life fully without attributing dignity or reality to death. We know that as an integral part of life, death is a universal phenomenon from which nobody can escape. But many of us are not aware of our tendency to make death impersonal, as we live in a world  full of violence, turmoil, crimes and shattering events and noises. It behooves us to have a personal relationship with death.

Born and reared in a Christian family, if I trembled at the terrifying force of death, I rejoiced in the resurrection of Jesus as a triumph over death. I could overcome the sorrow of death with the joy of Christ’s resurrection. Alas, I am no longer such a Christian.

Now, with my loss of Don, the weight of death is heavier than ever. All the more reason why I struggle to find a new meaning for Easter.

Perhaps, Easter is for me a moment that silences all the noises of destruction.  It is the intense silence in which I can revive my dormant soul, forgotten and buried under worldly and physical noises. I can’t vouch for other dead people, but I believe I can for Don. To me, he is the person “who had withdrawn from everything in order to reflect upon life.” Easter is a moment when Don teaches me to wake my soul up and feed it in tranquility.

Every day I try to find Easter, in which the souls of the living and the dead find life together.


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