By C.B. Hanif
The last Monday in May is the unofficial beginning of summer. It’s also a day when Americans visit cemeteries, gather for parades and picnics, or watch the
National Memorial Day Concert at the U.S. Capitol.
Most important, folks reflect on the men and women who sacrificed their lives in our military, law enforcement and fire services, and other causes that have molded
Helping to usher in this Memorial Day, an intriguing panel discussion recently questioned: What is your faith or philosophy’s concept of death and dying, and
how does it inform the way one’s life should be conducted?
Very close to the consensus was the Rev. Carole Yorke of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palm Beaches:
“Whatever we think about life after death, we Unitarian Universalists devote our full spiritual attentions to life before death, seeking to live in such a way that
our lives will prove worthy of dying for.”
“I was just dying to participate in this program,” quipped Rabbi Barry Silver of Temple L’Dor V’Dor in Lake Worth, my fellow panelist for “The End — Or Is it?”
The traditional Jewish view, he said during the March 25 program, “is
eventually death will be wiped out, and everyone will live happily ever after.”
Tom OBrien, whose theology and Scripture courses I take at Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, surveyed Christian perspectives in the context of our “relationship
with the sacred.” I shared Muslim perspectives, underscoring the Golden Rule.
From a Buddhist perspective, Brett Ferrigan, co-director of the Palm Beach
Shambhala House, noted that:
“As we relax our grip on ‘me,’ and become more concerned about ‘other,’ then life takes on a fluidity and vibrancy and adventure that really opens things up.”
This brief space cannot convey all the insights gleaned from the panelists and participants. We agreed with Yorke that, “Whether or not there is life after
death, surely there is love after death.”
It seems a wonderful memorial that, thanks to the sacrifices of so many before us, such a program happened. In a warm and respectful atmosphere, humor leavened a
conversation that still in some places today literally would be a matter life
This Memorial Day, as I recall my uncle Harry’s U.S. Army service during World War II, my uncle Avon the Marine and so many others, a good way to memorialize them
comes in the words of that great poet, Stevie Wonder:
“Love’s in need of love today. Don’t delay. Send yours in right away.”
C.B. Hanif is a writer and inter-religious affairs consultant. Find him at www.interfaith21.com.