Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Death be Not Proud in the Season of Advent

Death Be Not Proud
By John Donne (1572-1631)

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

By Ann Perrott

It seems odd to me that during this season of Advent, a season of hopeful expectation and joy that my older brother, John is losing his battle with cancer.  This season of waiting for the joyous occasion of our Savior is juxtaposed with the expectation of the end of a life. John does not have many days left but is quite comfortable and resolved to his situation. We are watchful and content to sit with him and read, listen to music or be silent.  It has been a very sacramental time for me.  Theologian, Leonardo Goff writes, “In order to see something as a sacrament, we must be looking with the eyes of faith.”  This is exactly how our family sees this experience with John.  We know the love God has for John, and death, as described by John Donne above will not win because “wee wake eternally.” Donne puts death in its place in this sonnet. The hope of eternal life—that is the deeper meaning here, and one which keeps us praying by John’s side.
So this Advent for me has included some grief time and time for joy with the coming of our Savior, Jesus.  Both events hold so much love and so much hope.  What beautiful gifts in a beautiful season.

No comments:

Post a Comment