We are surrounded by death throughout life, but we do not know how to bring this reality to light and so death stays in the shadows and lingers there, full of shame and a sense of losing or giving up; a fear of losing status or authority or influence or worst of all loss of dignity and relevance. That is our fault. Many of us are in the the shadowy darkness right alongside the dying because we ourselves are full of shame and a sense of losing or giving up. . . a fear of losing status or authority or influence or worst of all loss of dignity and relevance. The shadowy nature of dying is our own human frailty. Our human nature is that which dies with our body, so we must abandon the human nature to cling to life and survive needlessly.  Instead we give our Hearts to absolute LOVE because that is what is GOD and that is what is eternal within us.

This CoVid Crisis has shined the spotlight upon death and it it impossible to ignore or deny the attention it is drawing. Because during our solitary physical distancing and our necessary isolating to preserve our own health and lives there is still the same Samsara-pattern of life and death happening everywhere around us. People are still dying peacefully of old age. Some are still dying because of a massive and sudden heart attack or a sudden and tragic car accident. Some give in to mysterious diseases that share no diagnosis and still some are facing curative treatments that seem worse than death. Some suffer in their minds so greatly that even when their bodies are filled with life they long for death. And somehow, although the ways that Co-Vid has prohibited us from celebrating the joy and hope of death together through our ceremonies and rituals, we have failed to address death with wisdom and guidance and open conversation and acceptance. Why? 

And when I am called to the side of a dying soul and am asked to pray, I pray the words below in some form or another, using words of comfort and familiarity when I know their faith, and framing the prayer with the most well known or common terms for the same things I know and share in my own theology depending upon their context. I do this and respect the other names and revelations of God because after the intensive Chaplaincy training during my Clinical Pastoral Education, I began to understand that my acknowledging God in others’ revelations and souls did not and should not diminish my own understanding of God. My God, and my God’s unmerited grace is big enough. It’s why I rest into that Holy Mystery; I may not understand it but I can live into it and trust the truth of what I know: God is LOVE. 

So many people ask me how we “should” feel about death and admit to them I’m not sure, but I know that if we did not have the hope of eternity we would be absolutely lost. It took me grabbing hands with Christ to understand the Holy Mystery but Christ does not have the monopoly on peace or revelation. Perhaps others find it through the hands of the Creator revealed in Creation and the Saṃsāra rhythms and cycles of life or through the shiny Spirit sparking light and love within their own hearts; some feel dimished in their faith when they cannot remember a time without YOUR presence surrounding them and I remind them they are reborn every day into new life and that their unbeknownst origin of faith does not mean they don’t already live and breathe with that Holy Mystery. . .

It’s not ours to know details because what happens after death is in God’s Hands and many, as do most Christians, believe that our Spirit is already part of the Holy Mystery and certainly positively proof of that same Holy Mystery breathing life giving inspiration throughout ALL.

And so we do not fear or freeze with inaction like a deer-in-the-headlights. No! We trust, and trusting includes recognizing how courageous it is to sincerely pray this prayer every day. I’m inviting you to embrace this prayer and pray it for the dying and also for yourself.
 
We pray:
 
A Prayer for the Dying
 
Holy Mystery,
God our Creator of
Christ the Human Presence of the
Spirit the Shiny Living Inspiration of
YOU:
 
YOU
Only
Know our days and so
We pray for those who are dying
 
That if they have any life in them to live
whether their souls long for death
or their souls shrink in fear of death we pray
that each moment
will be surrounded by love and meaning, dignity and purpose, and that
Each breath
Each inspiration
would thrive with your Energy.
And that they would be surrounded by those they love and cherish most
 
and that they would tangibly feel the presence of all those who love them
 
whether present in body or Spirit joined.
 
That if they have come to the end of their time here
And if they have many days to contemplate this
Give them an inner peace that is so warm that your
Peace that Passes Understanding
Finds a permanent home within their soul and that
they begin to value every inspiration and marry it with the breath that is YOU that is that shiny Spirit.
Give them the time here among the living saints
and give them living saints worthy of the Calling to
Be YOUR Body, to be Christ;
present and peaceful and in-Spi-ra-tion-al.
 
That if they have made their peace
And are safely and securely resting in your LOVE
Holy Mystery,
We pray they would go quickly without suffering and
If
O God
The dying one cannot let go
We pray for Ourselves to Trust,
As we surely are the ties holding onto
Your Beloved Child.
And So
Our Holy and Present Mystery
Give us your peace to release this saint
Into
Your
Arms.
Amen.

 

—Rev. Paula Daniel Steinbacher

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