I was walking on Monday afternoon, when a little Noisy Miner bird fell out of the sky and landed on the road just ahead of me. It had died in flight. Not a sound. Not a final chirp
(I love the song they make). I stepped into the road, picked it up and gently laid it by the trunk of a nearby tree. I stopped to think about this little life and gave thanks for it. It didn’t feel right that’s its dying should go unrecognised.
I continued on my walk and a very old song my mother used to listen to by George Beverley Shea came to mind. ‘His eye is on the sparrow’. The song referring of course to the idea that somehow G-d is interested in and concerned with every life – human and otherwise. Such an idea comes to the foreground especially when we conduct funerals and celebrate a person’s life. A significant part of the Christian ritual is about commending them into G-d’s care – whatever that means for each of us.
We’ve done a bit of that commending just lately, and hosted some large gatherings of friends and families who wanted to honour the life of one who was dearly loved and will be deeply missed.
The death of the little Noisy Miner reminded me, by way of contrast, of the funerals I have conducted over the years for those who had no family or friends to mourn their passing. Sometimes, it was just me, the casket and a couple of funeral directors. In those moments, I try to affirm that whilst some people appeared to have no-one to remember them, we carry the hope that no-one, nothing, slips from the memory of G-d. The G-d in whom we have placed both trust and confidence, and from whom no living thing can be separated. Not even by death. This is a hope expressed in every religion.
I know there are many opposing views about what happens when we die, and each one is equally valid in the face of no objective evidence either way. We will all find out eventually. But, at the end of the day, we hold on to what resonates with us individually. Personally, I can’t quite see the point of faith if it doesn’t give birth to a hope that we are all somehow caught up in the cosmic mystery of life itself. Why it began. Why it ends. Although I call myself progressive, the idea of ‘from love I came, and to love I return’, sits ok with me.