They did not have a formal funeral, but today there was a memorial service, a celebration of his life, at the local Christian – Lite church (about the only kind we have around here) for friends and family. Mrs. Hump and I paid our respects, sitting in the back of the church.
The agenda included prayers, testimony from attendees praising the deceased’s gentle qualities and goodness, readings from the bible, and hymns (who knew that the old Cat Stevens ballad “Morning has Broken” was actually a 19th century hymn?).
To think that their reunion will be but a couple of years or months, in the future; to believe that the pain of his absence, thus her loneliness, will be but a brief moment of separation; to “know” that an eternity of renewed life awaits surrounded by ones welcoming ancestors and loved ones who have passed before must be enormously comforting.
Oh, to be able to willingly accept without a moment’s doubt the imaginary lands of the dead that await the believer - Valhalla, the Elysian Fields, Vaikuntha, the Fields of Aaru, Paradise, Heaven and their promise of the ever lasting embrace of those we loved and who loved us.
Alas, for the atheist, the freethinker, the self deception of these fairytale lands and renewed eternal life can never be. We are condemned by reason, by intellect, by our respect for reality to face the finality of death, ours and our loved ones’, as a finale to a life well lived; to the return of our wasting corpse to its basic elements - what Carl Sagan called “Star Stuff”; to be no more; to enter that state of non-existence that preceded our own birth; to share the very same condition to which every life form, animal or vegetable, must inevitably succumb.
When I consider these things I must admit that the true believer benefits emotionally from their buy-in when it comes to dealing with the end of life -their own or their loved ones’. It is perhaps the one aspect of supernaturalism that trumps reason. I’m happy for them in that one regard. But given all the other baggage that invariably accompanies religiosity, I’ll take the pain of reason and self reliance over the self-imposed deceit, and dulling of the sensibilities and intellect of belief any day... and wish them peace.