Monday, November 01, 2010

All Saints Day

What does it mean to be human?

Yesterday was All Saints Sunday. Our church sanctuary has 280 paper cranes hanging from the ceiling. Each crane carries the name of someone remembered, a saint. Over the past month, people were invited to inscribe a name of someone who has passed away, but whose life left an indelible mark on the individual. The fine-paper squares were transformed into many-colored cranes.

A key foundation of Christianity is that the risen Christ proves that death is not to be feared. The physical death of the corporal body is a transition, not an end. Death is another marker in our existence. As Craig said, death is a conquered enemy – a comma, not a period.

We can classify our death as a switch, like a light switch on the wall. Whether it is thrown violently, or pushed softly down, our minds cannot comprehend what occurs at the terminal point of that switch.

Death itself is no longer the literal end-all, the big mystery to our physical human life. Now the mystery is the other side of this transition.

Christianity does not hold a monopoly on faith in a post-human existence. Most religions and cultures have upheld a major life-force, or forces, that governs our life and opens the door to life after death. We just do not carry the tools to describe that image.

So, what does it mean to be human? Dunno yet. The cranes might help, though.

Each of the cranes carries a message. The message is carried in a different song, a different word, a different picture. We each hear it, see it, feel it in a different way. If we try to frame the message or give it boundaries, we constrict instead of liberate our lives. Each of the people written on the cranes was human and left footprints, or we would not be naming them. My Dad, Pam’s Mom, Don Troost, Michael Cheslosky are not just black ink that I scratched on rectangles of fine paper. They live. We carry them. They fly. And we try to fly with them.

Click here to read a poem by Morton Marcus.

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