The coffin speaks

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Saturday, August 9, 2014


BIRTH and death are twins. If someone has been born, that someone will die. It is just a matter of time. If we welcome birth; then, we have to welcome death also. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 is very clear, "There is a time for everything, and a reason for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die..."

This thought comes to me when my former student in Theater Arts (who became also a public school teacher in Theater Arts) died recently. She was only 41. It was not easy for her husband and very young children to accept her early departure. Her friends and students could not just accept that it was a theatrical production with sad ending.

Death means freedom. She will have no more pain, no obligation to see the shocking bill from Ceneco at the end of the month, no more lesson plan to prepare, no more test papers to check, no more lonely nights. To free her from all earthly worries, the solution of God in His infinite wisdom is death. "And the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

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Death could also mean restoration. She is a child of God (made to the image and likeness of God) but she has been affected by the tempting world and people around who polluted her environment (also her body and soul). In order to be restored (born again), she has to die (spiritually and physically) so that she could be reborn.

Death is a gateway to God's kingdom. (You may agree with me.) The thief at Mt. Calvary who asked forgiveness was taken by Jesus Christ to his Father's Kingdom. That happened only when the thief died. When my own father (Nicolas) died, those who joined the funeral rites were shocked when I requested them to clap their hands to honor father's exit. I explained, "Father is not going to war. He will see his Creator. Are you not happy?"

Death is an award. As Christians we worked hard here on earth. We obeyed our parents. We followed rules in school. We gave our best in our job. We avoided graft and corruption. We fought temptation. (I hope we did all those.) When we die, we have to claim our trophy from the Awards Committee. Our prize is heaven. How can we reach heaven if we don't want to depart from our assets and liabilities?

If we understand the necessity of death, then we have to prepare for our graduation. "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart." (Ecclesiastes 7:2) I don't want to embarrass people if I suggest that coffins should be made festive.

Coffins painted with white, silver or gold are okay but we can have other options. Green is for ecology. Blue reminds us of the color of the sky. Brown commemorates Earth Day. We can have floral designs with butterflies to remind us of flora and fauna. I know we are not ready for that because we are hooked to tradition and religious practices.

Death should not be associated with horror. We don't believe that on the third night the soul of the dead will go back to visit his family or tickle the foot of his enemy. It is not true that bereavement means wearing of black or white attire only up to the first death anniversary of your beloved husband or wife.

Acceptance of death is not that easy. To appreciate death, we have to understand death. Appreciating is not mechanical. It takes time. Understanding needs a spiritual journey. Take the advice from Apostle Paul, "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

The next time we see a coffin, let us not just think of sadness. The coffin speaks that whoever is inside is a son of God. To die is to rest and that son of God is coming back to his Father. The son's glorious return will be rewarded with eternal life. His reunion with God is an assurance of everlasting joy.

To my student who is now with the Great Beyond, welcome to God's presence.

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies." - Jesus Christ

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 09, 2014.

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