Thursday, February 12, 2015

Caterpillar To Butterfly




A Catholic Prayer for the Dead:

God our Father,
Your power brings us to birth
Your providence guides our lives
And by your command we return to dust.

Lord, those who die still live in your presence
Their lives change but do not end
I pray in hope for my family, relatives and friends
And for all the dead known to you alone.

In company with Christ
Who died and now lives
May they rejoice in your kingdom
Where all our tears are wiped away.

Unite us together again in one family
To sing your praise forever and ever.

Amen.

Do we cease to exist when we die, or are we changed into another form?  Do we move from this earthly dimension into another dimension, one regulated by science and physics rather than religion and faith?

Is the pattern reflected in nature—caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly?

In some ways, though, the caterpillar is inherent within the butterfly.  But from another point of view, it is difficult to see the caterpillar within the newly emerged butterfly.

This corresponds to us not being able to see and interact with those who have died.  They seem lost to us, yet we feel their presence, real or imagined, sometimes for the remainder of our lives.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of the Over-soul, the entire fabric of life that shrouds the world, a tiny piece of which is given to us when we are born.  When we die, our piece rejoins the entire soul of existence.  Therefore, we are all, every living thing, part and parcel of this Over-soul.  Hindus call this atman, a Sanskrit word meaning breath or essence.

Although we cannot physically touch those who are gone, we can access them because they are a part of this larger soul of existence.  We feel their presence because their breath remains, their essence continues, long after the physical decay of this earthly vessel we call a body.

And so, we go on.

1 comment:

William Shaules said...

Another view from the Hebrew sage Qohelet:

"Vanity of vanity, all is vanity...There is no remembrance of past generations; nor will future generations be remembered by those who come after them” (Ecclesiastes 1:1 and 11).

I teach Qohelet in my classes. As a biblical text it creates a tension with other canonical perspectives.