Thoughtful Thursday: Celebration of Lives

Thoughtful Thursday: Celebration of Lives

As we wrap up the second full month of lockdown,  we at GCP want to pay tribute to all of the many people who have been lost in this pandemic.  Friends and family members who succumbed to the Covid-19 virus, as well as those lost to unrelated illnesses.  Families and loved ones have been denied the ability to publicly mourn, commemorate and celebrate these lives.

So we are dedicating this Thoughtful Thursday to the memories of all the dearly departed.  Not in a sorrowful way—we are celebrating their lives, and we are doing so, of course, with poetry.  “All is Well”  by Henry Scott-Holland (1847-1918)—which was not actually written as a poem; it’s an excerpt from a sermon—assures us that our loved ones remain with us always.  “Go Down Death (A Funeral Sermon)” by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) vividly describes how God commands Death to bring the weary to him after their good service on earth is done.  And finally, “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost (1874-1963) reminds us that while nothing lasts forever, it is important to reflect on the beauty of things (and people) while we have them, and be comforted by that when they are gone.

We celebrate the lives of all who have perished during this pandemic, and hope that their families and loved ones find comfort in their wonderful memories.  Share these poems with your families, and may you all find comfort in these words.

 

All is Well

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me and if you want to, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect,
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you,
For an interval,
Somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Henry Scott-Holland

Go Down Death

 (A Funeral Sermon)

Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart-broken husband–weep no more;
Grief-stricken son–weep no more;
Left-lonesome daughter –weep no more;
She only just gone home.

Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven,
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell on Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God’s big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.

And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice
That broke like a clap of thunder:
Call Death!–Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.

And Death heard the summons,
And he leaped on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight.
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hooves of his horses struck fire from the gold,
But they didn’t make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God’s command.

And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline.
She’s borne the burden and heat of the day,
She’s labored long in my vineyard,
And she’s tired–
She’s weary–
Go down, Death, and bring her to me.

And Death didn’t say a word,
But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Through heaven’s pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars;
on Death rode,
Leaving the lightning’s flash behind;
Straight down he came.

While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn’t see;
She saw Old Death.  She saw Old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn’t frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I’m going home,
And she smiled and closed her eyes.

And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn’t feel no chill.
And death began to ride again–
Up beyond the evening star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.
And there he laid Sister Caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.

And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest.

Weep not–weep not,
She is not dead;
She’s resting in the bosom of Jesus.

James Weldon Johnson

 

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

 

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