The Next Time Through
I discovered two deaths this year. That may surprise you knowing I am a priest and have frequent funerals for parishioners and others who I am asked to have funerals for. But this year I was looking on line for a friend and found her obituary. I was stunned and cried. She was so beautiful, had two little girls, a husband, and served in The Salvation Army with me where we met. We studied at university together and had part-time jobs together.
The other was a singer named Colin Vearncombe named Black when on stage. While listening to his song “Feel Like Change” I scrolled down and read in the comments that he had died in January following a car crash. My mind reeled. He was the same age as me. I used to listen to his music over and over when I was living in Zambia.
It makes me realise how short our time here really is. Those funerals I have had for others, those people I dug graves for in Zambia. And I thought of all those people who have to live on the streets in the world, the cold and lonely. I thought of the people who get into trouble and get sent to jail. It isn’t something just in a novel or a film. These are real people. These are real people. Someone’s son, someone’s daughter. Someone who didn’t make it. Someone we didn’t notice. If we truly are that insensitive then we have already lost. But I am sure there is a desire to help, to make things work, make the world better than how we found it (something my father taught me).
Because time is finite for us here, and seems in limited supply, we need always to be conscious of the world around us. We can’t be blithe about who and where we are, ignoring the people around us who have either failed or fallen through the cracks. Where we can, we need to reach out. And where the needs might be invisible keep looking beyond the given and see the what-if, the maybe-we-could.
“Everything changes as you stare at it,
we’ve all learned to live with it.
But another bag lady, beggar man, thief,
another low flyer came to grief,
can barely stand.”
Colin Vearncombe aka Black