... and to dust you will return.
A couple of years ago I blogged a reflection on this, which seemed to resonate with some readers... the story of how I had come to value these words, and the comfort of knowing that the atoms and molecules that make up my body will still be here and still part of life on earth long after I have gone.
For various reasons, recently I've had lots of conversations about disposal (or not) of "cremated remains" also known as ashes. Should they be buried or dispersed? Is it OK to divide them into portions? Is it ghoulish to keep grandma (or Fido) on the mantlepiece? Ashes converted to diamonds and incorporated into jewellry; ashes smeared on skin and then tattooed into it; ashes launched into space... the possibilties are, it seems, pretty much endless. I have my views on the various practices listed above, and some would definitely not be "for me".
Remember you are dust and too dust you will return... this keeps us from becoming too arrogant in life, but raises huge challenges about what happens to our mortal remains after we die. Within all of the questions and all of the choices people make is, I suspect, a tacit wrestling with what that all means... a need to make meaningful something that potentially destroys meaning.
I am still comforted and reassured by the knowledge that the atoms and molecules that make me will go on being part of the life of this planet as long as it exists. I am comforted and reassured by the hope I have in Christ that my life will continue beyond the here and now. Death and dying are profound mysteries, taboos we rarely speak about depsite their inevitability. Maybe it is good one day a year to be reminded, gently, of our own mortality and assured that in the end it'll all be OK.
Oh, and if anyone wonders, when my time comes, just set me free on the breeze.... :-)