Wednesday, 2 November 2011

All Souls Day ...

Today is the feast of All Souls, the day that Christians remember and celebrate the lives of those who have "gone before" us from this life to the next. There are possibly many different understandings surrounding what, precisely, the "next life" is or is like. Early Christians tended to follow the Jewish understanding which is that "the soul" descends into a place of waiting from which it will be recalled to return to a new and perfect body in a restored earth. In the Christian understanding, this will be a perfect world in which there is no more birth or death and an absence of pain and suffering.

Of course, the early church expected this "renewal" to happen within their or the next generation's life span, so theologians have wrestled with the question ever since. Interestingly, the Christian teaching remains that, ultimately, in God's time, all will be resurrected in flesh and blood form to populate the new earth and there will be a restoration of Eden with no further death or suffering. Various alternative visions are also taught, many believing that the resurrection is a spiritual one rather than a physical - but now we roam into the realms of "Dualism" which is pre-Christian and was, in fact, refined by Aristotle. The big question at this point is, "What precisely is the 'soul'?" To that we might add - "What is it?"

In fact, at this point, no one really has a definitive answer. But, having attended a number of deaths and watched, helplessly as someone makes that transition from living to dead, I can say that there is a very subtle something that changes at the moment of "death." What is more it is something far more subtle than the absence of breathing, heart beat or any other "vital" sign. Something is definitely "absent" once that border is crossed, something intangible to our crude senses. It is one of the reasons I continue to hold to my faith.

All Souls Day is when we remember all those who have had an impact or an influence on our lives and are no longer among us in physical form. So today I will be keeping in my prayers the following -

Neville Gray Cox
Grace Eleanor Frances Cox
Hector Mary Heron
Henry Nelson Heron
Roland Cox
Louise Cox
Mabel Ferson
Rheinhard Löffler
Diana Matlock
Ron Rayner
Doug Schwikkardt
Gil Wright
Ashley Batten
Mervyn Moore
Dennis Knighton

May they rest in Peace and rise with the saints in Glory.

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