We all react to crises in many different ways.
I have noticed how members of religious orders, perhaps unsurprisingly, have been able to offer very clear positive attitudes during the Pandemic.
Many people in religious orders are used to solitude, silence, contemplation – and I was very struck by one post by a nun about the contemplation of death as way of escaping fear.
With so much death happening, why would we want to contemplate the prospect voluntarily? It’s something like “facing your fear”, I think, and for someone in religious orders, that fear, that so many of us understandably have, turns out to be unnecessary.
There is a striking chapter in The Little Flowers of St. Francis in which we read about the inspiring ways that both St. Francis and Brother Bernard, in their different ways, approached their deaths with calm, with faith, with joy, and with concern for those around them.
“So when Saint Francis was on the point of death…Saint Francis said: “Where is my firstborn? Come, my son, that my soul may bless you before I die…
“…When Brother Bernard reached the final hour of his departure…he said…. “…my condition will be yours some day…I found in my soul that I would not have renounced the service of Christ for a thousand worlds…I beg you dearest brethren, love one another.” …he lay back on his bed, and his face shone with a great joy…And in that happiness that joyous soul…passed to the joys of the blessed.”
I find these passages so inspiring.
They inspired this poem, in which I tried to put into words the generosity of spirit shown by Francis when he was dying:
The moment of death
Will be ours too one day
Will we then be able
To bless and say
‘At your going out
And in your dying
Be with you’?