An opportunity to reset the way we think about death - and life
Marcus Walker wrote in the Daily Telegraph on Ash Wednesday that this has been a year of death. “Death has touched almost everyone. ”In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," said Benjamin Franklin
Remember, O reader, that thou art dust and unto dust shalt thou return.
We in Britain have not known how to talk about death since all of our rituals fell apart under the weight of the enormous casualties of the First World War. No more fixed days of mourning.
We sugarcoat our language of death, surrounding it in euphemism; we avert our eyes from death by dispatching those soon to encounter it to homes and hospitals; we deny the inevitability of death by seeing it as a mistake and seeking someone to blame.
This pandemic affords us the opportunity of a hard reset
Recognising the inevitability of our death affords us the opportunity to ask how we have lived. The ashes sprinkled on our heads not only remind us of our end, but are a mark of a new beginning: a repentance; a turning around.
Remembering that we all share a common inheritance of death demands that we look around and note that we are made in the image and likeness of God. And today is the day that we pledge that we will try to treat each other as if we truly do bear the stamp of the Divine in our soul; that we will stop treating other people as if they were our playthings, as if they are worth less than us, as if our hopes, our wealth, our pleasure mean more than theirs. In short, that other thing we don’t like talking about: sin.
Let’s take advantage of this hard reset and remember that we are dust just as much as every other person is dust – but just as importantly that they are Divine and called to that dignity just as much as we are, and that as we remember our shared inheritance of death, we have been given the opportunity to make good our shared inheritance of life.