Tuesday, 14 June 2011
I have heard some people complain about decks where Death is softened, made more bearable, less existentially challenging. However, I feel there is an extent to which such arguments actually show our overweaning pride. Death is just a transformation - what was once living is transformed into food for some other creature. We humans feed the worms, and many people don't like to admit that our lives may not be more important than that fact. So, why should our deaths be a big deal, and mean anything more than a simple transformation?
I like the image here, a funeral bier with a skull resting atop the corpse, and a full animal skeleton beneath. An owl stares out at me, part spirit, part bird, flying under and through the bier, while a waning moon sets in the distance. In some ways, this is a darker image than the traditional one: no sunrise to herald a new day; no Death figure to lead us into the afterlife. The owl's stare seems reach out to me, asking if I will be next.
The owl's association with wisdom, with seeing in the darkness and with being able to turn its head in all directions, giving it perspective on past, present and future, suggests that this transformation can bring us greater understanding, if we are willing to face the darkness, the letting go suggested by the moon. And so there is a positive aspect, but not that things will be sunny again, rather that we can learn from the darkness. Perhaps, too, a reminder that such transformations are something we must go through alone, suggested by the isolated bier. And that these transformations don't mean much in the grand scheme of things, only to us personally - the sky is vast, and death is omnipresent in the skeletons, and the owl as predator and bringer of death.
I am grateful to acknowledge that my life is but a drop in the vastness of the universe.
I am thankful that life offers the possibility of change and transformation.