….aber Christus wird Dich erheben!
Remember, O man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return… but Christ will raise you up!
My eyes were surprisingly watery as the old priest rested his hand on my head and discretely sprinkled my ashes in my hairline.
I am a marked woman.
Who wants to think about death? Why stand in a very long line in a drafty, impossibly large and ostentatiously ornate Catholic Cathedral in downtown Munich just to have an old man in a purple robe and a funny hat give me a foretaste of cremation and decomposition?
Who needs a momento mori on a snowy Wednesday evening?
You and I do.
Because we are not only marked for death, but for eternal resurrection.
And there is no achieving the latter without descending into the former.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away-
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing-
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.
You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstacy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets, East Cocker III.