Thinking about our death

“If at the moment of our death, death comes to us as an unwelcome stranger, it will be because Christ also has always been an unwelcome stranger … Those who love true life, therefore, frequently think about their own death. Their life is full of a silence that is an anticipated victory over death. Silence, indeed, makes death our servant and even our friend.”

– Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island. 

On 10 December, 1968, the author of this quotation died a sudden death of accidental electrocution. In those final moments, perhaps seconds, did death come as an unwelcome, threatening stranger to him? And did he withdraw into his self, unable and unwilling to face this eternal friend? Or did he see this friend in his many colours, in his overpowering otherness and intense fecundity, and let go of Thomas Merton, the 53 year old man?

We cannot know.

We cannot know if the quotation above was mere words for Merton, or if it sunk so deep that it arose from an experience of which words were only the final expression, like in the case of an iceberg – the tip of a large and deep structure which remains hidden to the other, except through its tip.

In any case, it is not important. Perhaps we can examine ourselves and see if we live with death. Death is not something to be invited. It is present, every moment. Every thought, left to its own nature, passes. Every feeling passes, and so does every sensation. When we live with this reality of our lives, where death occurs every single moment, then perhaps we will not be afraid of bodily death when it comes, and then perhaps we will see death in its utter beauty.

~ by tdcatss on May 28, 2016.

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