Last night i heard a poet read Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night”.
This heart-breaking expression of a son’s attachment, facing his father’s imminent death, was so desperate and grief-filled that this morning i wrote this response –
Oh love, go gently into that good night…and give your peace to those whom death doth fright.
Why would you rage at sunsets, rainbows end? –
the leaf that falls responds to winter.
When death calls, be soft with love and not uptight
– there is no ending to the light.
wendy 1 March 2015
People sometimes say that they become more fully alive in the face of a terminal diagnosis – letting go of the unimportant, more free to express and appreciate than ever before.
Around 300BC the Greek philosopher Epicurus wrote ” The art of living well and dying well are one ” and Montaigne wrote in the 16th century that ” Death is one of the attributes you were created with; death is part of you. Your life’s continual task is to build your death ”
Are you ready to die? If not, then you might begin some preparation. Most readers of this will die this century, and death is constantly beside us…as Montaigne urged “One should be ever booted and spurred and ready to depart.””
Living ‘with death in the heart’ as a practice is enlivening rather than depressing. It intensifies the experience of each arising moment and brings our short existence into relationship with the infinite. This in turn can refine our relationship to ourselves, to others, and how we are in each heart-beat of our lives.
R.I.P is a wish, or prayer, often inscribed on tombstones for the peace of the departed…but it’s surely far safer to find the way to rest in peace before then – in this life.