“What if the secret of life was death?”

Several Bath Quakers have been reflecting on end of life matters over the last year, among us Katy Jones who shared with us this poem by Su Squires of Mortal Yarns, reproduced here with Su’s permission:

What If…?

What if the secret of life was death?

What if, instead of fearfully brushing our mortality under the carpet
We held it up to the light, beheld it in all of its fragile glory?
Revelling in the wonder of our even being here at all

What if, one day, we all woke up and decided that life’s impermanence
Was what made it precious

What if we thought of it as a holiday
Pouring our energy into relishing every moment
Everything that reminds us we’re alive
Living fully
Being present
Being here
Instead of preoccupying ourselves
In extending our stay at any cost

What if when the time came to catch that plane home
We could collapse back into our seat
Let out a contented sigh and say
‘Damn that was good!’

What if all of our sleep-labours in pursuit of forever
Are poisoning the fleeting beauty of the finite life we have been gifted?

What if one day we allowed the years and years and tears
Of our accumulated grief to flow
Abandoning social convention
And upper lip stiffening
And allowed it to pour forth
Like so much healing rain upon the earth, scarred and scorched
by centuries of amnesia

What if we all collectively remembered the state of grace
That exists in the embracing and cherishing of all that is finite
To know
That we too shall pass
That our flesh and bones will return to the earth
And the song that we chose to sing
Will live on through the tongues and in the hearts of others

What if the secret of life was death?
What if this could set us free?

Su Squires of Mortal Yarns; image via Off the Twig.

Su’s poem triggered lively and ongoing discussion among Bath Friends, about its echoes of Buddhism and how it speaks to our present condition.

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