Monday, March 21, 2005

Permit me my death

Pagans have various views on death, but I think many agree that it's a great mystery and a natural part of life. Many pagans see death as a transition rather than an ending. While it's natural for our animal selves to fear death, and while it's important for us to mourn and remember our dead, death isn't something we need to fear for ourselves. We have been given the gifts of embodiment and consciousness for a span of years and, in the words of an older man at the mystery school I attend, "death is what's next."

What's next for Terry Schiavo? Her consciousness is long dead, and the brain and body continue to deteriorate, although the body is still alive in a minimal sense (the heart beats and nutrition sustains this). Since I believe death is an important transition, an exchange of energy, and a journey back to the Mother, I think it's possible that Terry Schiavo - whoever she was or will be - is being grievously harmed. She's not alive on the earth in any meaningful sense, but neither has she been set free. It's as if she's suspended between life and death - as if fortune's wheel has gotten stuck.

If the materialists are right, and I'm sympathetic to the view, then Terry Schiavo is simply dead. She cannot be harmed anymore by opportunistic bastard Republicans. If the Christians are right, then what is the state of Schiavo's soul: has it passed on to heaven, or is it still stuck in her body? And if it's passed on, what's the point of keeping her body alive?

But if it's true, instead, that death is a transition we need to honor along its way, and that the death of consciousness and the body may provide a gateway to something new - whatever's "next" - then it's breathtakingly cruel to bar that door. For myself, I want to die with enthusiasm and grace. Not anytime soon, mind you, but when it's time. I want to go singing into the next world. When I die, permit me my death.