Update: Scott Bates died at 2 am this morning. He went out with the tide. The rest is silence
Posted late last night
I received the following e-mail this past week from my friend Sue Schmidt, a spiritual director at her church who from time to time contributes posts to this blog. When she heard that my father was dying, she sent the following e-mail. Sue has meditated in a previous post on the Rilke poem that she cites.
By Sue Schmidt
I was so sorry to hear about your dad today and so glad that Julia called and told me what was going on. I spent much of the day thinking and praying for you all, and Rebecca and Cathleen joined me for a few hours as well. I trust that you felt our love and support, not only for you but also for your family, including your father and mother.
Julia mentioned my writing a post for the blog, but what to say at a time like this? I was reminded, though, about this passage from Ecclesiastes that a guest speaker read in church a few weeks ago.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
The theme of the message was on making a time for silence. It seems to me that when we come to the death of someone we love, it is one of these times—a sacred time, a time for silence. Being with the reality of our love and our loss.
My dad passed away due to an accident. He had Alzheimer’s and walked in front of a car. My mom was called and she came and sat with the body until the coroner came, which was quite a while—two hours I think. But it was a time when two worlds—the one we can see and the one which sends our souls trailing glory—are brought into alignment. She says it was a holy time. She was able to talk to the man who had hit my dad and tell him that he shouldn’t blame himself. Other than that, she kept silence.
I’m reminded of that line of Rilke’s that says that music is the space between the notes—and perhaps he is getting at this as well. The sacred floods into our lives in those quiet moments when we keep silence.
I am the rest between two notes,
which are somehow always in discord
because death’s note wants to climb over –
but in the dark interval, reconciled,
they stay here trembling.
May all the love of God, the love of all that’s holy, the love you shared with your father, may they all flow into your soul in these next days. I add my love to these, my dear friend – and continue to keep you, Julia, your mom and the rest of your family in my prayers.