Monday Dec 09, 2002
Animate and Inanimate
I didn’t know John that well. Still, there he lay in quiet repose as if he were merely asleep in the casket. His hair was neatly combed back and he wore a suit. His body was there on view, but where did his life go?
My mother knew John when he had lived near her in one of the condominiums with his lady friend. He was good-natured. They had moved about five years back to some isolated part of the state. A phone call from the lady friend: John had apparently died of a heart attack.
It is bitter cold outside as I drive my mother and myself to the funeral parlour, an old but well-cared for home.
There were about twenty-five people in the parlour. I could see John in the open casket in the front of the room. He would be cremated later. Bob Dylan was singing and screeching a tune from his Blonde on Blonde album. My mother was shaky and, after giving our condolences to the lady friend, we sat down to wait for the service.
People talked in the silence.
John breathed no more. I looked at him and saw the gate we all eventually pass through. My mother is sobbing. I am sad. Funerals are for the living after all. I get up and go over to the guesbook for friends. I sign for my mother and myself. I see John was his middle name and that he was fifty four years old. Jacob was his first name. Jacob, I thought. Yesterday, I had put one of my paintings on the weblog called the Angel and Abraham. God had asked the patriarch Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. It was a test, but Abraham, ready to cut Isaac’s throat, didn’t know that part. At the last moment, God sent an angel to prevent the deed. Abraham had proven his faith. Later on in time, Isaac had two sons, one being Jacob.
Now, John (Jacob) has gone to reconnect with the Great Creator. My mother, through her tears, prays that he will sleep in peace and that God will save his soul.
The owner of the funeral parlour comes out. He says a few words from the bible, some poetry, a witty Irish wish as in may you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you are dead, and uplifting thoughts for the berieved. We enter with nothing and leave with nothing. Still, if we have raised our level of consciousness, we depart more complete, knowing we had not wasted this journey on nonsense.
The service is over. We say good bye and leave the parlour as Dylan begins singing again. Where did John go? Life has no physical weight and that makes it metaphysical, transcendent. Do you want to know where life goes? Did you ever try to remember the name of some thing, but couldn’t? Where did that memory go? When you know where that thought went, you will know where life transcends to. You have also experienced that misplaced thought miraculously reappearing in your mind. The lost thought returned some how, reincarnated within the matrix of your life experience.
We drive off in the cold of winter. The wind bites. John is gone. My mother is depressed. I think of what Buddha said: When I die, the whole world dies with me.
A joyful journey John. May your ashes give life to mother earth.
A fine memorial to Jacob John. May he rest in peace.