I recently had a funeral for a young man who died suddenly of natural causes and his brother-in-law suggested that the following poem from Maya Angelou be used in the participation aid for the Funeral Mass and I want to share it with you, perhaps, you could use it this Advent to help nourish your thinking.
The Season of Advent originated in the darkness of the old way as an appropriate path to the return of light heralded by the Winter Solstice, December 21, and that got associated with Christmas and the incarnation of the Mystery some of us call, God.
Our outer world is saturated in artificial light so it is not easy to find a darkness that can be alive with wonder and awe, so, while we can see clearly the outer world, the darkness of our inner world can leave us alone and afraid until we get used to the dark.
Trust the darkness of this Advent Season and go inside your heart and mind and soul with it and I hope that the words and sounds of this poem helps you to gather the love and the loved ones that are here and not here awaiting our arrival in the Mystery that surrounds us all.
WHEN GREAT TREES FALL
by Maya Angelou
When great trees fall, rocks on distant hills shudder, lions hunker down in tall grasses, and even elephants lumber after safety. When great trees fall in forests, small things recoil into silence, their senses eroded beyond fear. When great souls die, the air around us becomes light, rare, sterile. We breathe, briefly. Our eyes, briefly, see with a hurtful clarity. Our memory, suddenly sharpened, examines,
gnaws on kind words unsaid, promised walks never taken. Great souls die and our reality, bound to them, takes leave of us. Our souls, dependent upon their nurture, now shrink, wizened. Our minds, formed and informed by their radiance, fall away. We are not so much maddened as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of dark, cold caves. And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.