Tonight, as I am working on this column, I am thinking about death. It is not a subject that most of us want to spend a lot of time in thought about. But at times like this one has to stand firm and work hard at coming to the knowledge of what is happening. The original subject I had planned to write about was baptism. That paper has now gone into the trash and on we go with starting from the beginning.
When I think about someone who is about to die, Jesus always comes to mind and how Jesus knew beforehand about his impending death. Jesus knew his time here on Earth was to be short. We all hope for a long and well-lived life, a life with much happiness and full of friends, family and fond memories. Sometimes one knows he is dying and other times it happens so suddenly that it is over with all too soon.
We do not all handle the death of a loved one in the same manner. Some of us cry and cry and cry. Others hold in their feelings, while some can not come to terms with the fact that anything is different. But no matter how we handle death, it is not an easy task.
One of the symbols I have read about, and used for explaining about how people handle death in different ways, has to do with an egg, a carrot or coffee.
A raw egg is runny; uncooked carrots are hard and crunchy; ground coffee smells good, but has the texture of sand.
A raw egg is like a person who can not stop crying, tears running down his face and falling to the floor just like an uncooked egg when cracked and not caught in a dish. Put that same egg or another one like it in water, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Now you have an egg that is solid _ the person who does not cry when faced with a death. They seem to have it all together and have a way of handling what ever the situation brings.
The hard, crisp, uncooked carrot is like the person who holds in the fears and feelings of loss when someone close to her is gone. Put the carrot in water and boil it for 10 minutes (you may have to cut it up to get it soft in this short amount of time); you now have something that is soft and easy to handle _ the person who just goes along with what others say and can not handle making decisions when faced with a loss.
Now for the coffee grounds, they start out as a hard bean. They have some aroma, but are hard to use before they are ground. Grinding make this into a different form, like the person who keeps changing his mind as to what he want to do and how he would like to see things handled. He can be a little gritty and irritating at times.
As with the egg and the carrot, if we put the coffee grounds into water and boil, it we get something entirely different. We now have a brew that not only smells good but also is good to taste and swallow _ the person who always knows what to say, when to say it and can find a way of being a comfort to everyone.
No one way is the right way. It doesn't matter if you are a raw egg, a hard-boiled egg, a carrot just picked from the garden, a carrot that is cooked until soft, a coffee bean, ground coffee or a nice steaming hot cup of aromatic coffee. The way you handle death is your way and is what is right for you.
The one way that seems to work for the most people when having to handle a time of loss of a loved one is to share memories. Good memories, bad memories, times when you did not agree with each other or just times that something strange happened. Do not lose your loved one altogether; hang on to those memories and cherish each one, for they are something that no one not even death can take away from you.
Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins and to go to be with his father in order to build a better home for us.
That is where we will find him waiting to greet each of us as we pass through the gates of heaven.
The Rev. Veleda Banta is pastor of the Coventry and Union Valley United Methodist churches.