Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

Won't You Spare Me Over til Another Year?

As Anastasia pointed out, our society has sanitized death through embalming and carefully preparing the corpses of our loved ones to remind us of the way they were in life, not in death. I've had several experiences with death. When my grandfather died, the casket was open at the memorial service with his body looking like a molded plastic representation of the person he was in life. My mother's casket was absent at the memorial service and closed at the gravesite. I was with my father when died and got to see him again after the doctors had done their work trying to revive him. I never saw his body prepared, I only saw it as a corpse actually is.

Hang on while I shift gears. Everyone knows what an apple from the supermarket looks like, they're bright, shiny happy looking fruits. I remember the first time I went to an orchard and pulled an apple off of the tree. It wasn't bright or shiny, supermarkets put wax on the apples later to make them more appealing in the store. The skin of the apple was rough and dull, but its color, while not as bright, seemed somehow more serious, more real. But what do we prefer? What do we have given to us? How many people are there in the world who don't know what an apple really looks like and only know it as the supermarkets present it to us, bright and shiny?

How many people don't know what death looks like? When you see an embalmed body, you try to think of that person the way they were in life. You hide death with fantasy. You cling to the idea that that person is still alive in your memory. When you see the body of a loved one unprepared, you realize that the person you love is no longer there, all that's left is an empty shell. For me, I knew this meant that my father was alive somewhere else now, I didn't have to take the responsibility of keeping him solely in my memory. Pastor Jim, my pastor back in Granada Hills, is a very wise man. He urged me to go in to see the body that used to hold my father. I'm glad he did, and I'm glad I took his advice.

When we clean up death we can't become convinced of it. How selfish we are! We want eternal life, but we refuse to acknowledge death! Death is a monster under the bed and has gained boogie-man status to Americans and even (especially?) American Christians. When we see a picture of a dead person, is our first thought of that person or of our own mortality? And if our thought is of our own mortality, or the mortality of a close family member or friend, how quickly do we try to repress that thought? And how uncomfortable do we become when we find that we can’t push this thought completely out of our minds?

I guess that’s all I have to say and Jeni’s head is about to explode from reading all those rhetorical questions, so I’ll get off of my soapbox and go play my guitar.

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