Death ends a life, but not a relationship.
I like to think of faith as the lenses we choose to put on in the morning to see and interpret the world. In that way, faith is a choice, a filter, and every day we get a new chance. What we see matters, but how we see it matters, too. My faith lenses came in handy a few years ago when I lost my friend.
Courtney was a spunky, spirited soprano who I got to live with in college. She loved peppermint bon bon milkshakes and choral music. I remember her as a friend who would fiercely support me and push me to be the best version of myself. She had a colorful butterfly tattooed on her foot that symbolized her spirit– bright and free. After college, she got diagnosed with cancer, and she died one year later. Watching cancer eat her alive was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. I was lucky enough to be able to say goodbye and attend her funeral right before I moved to live in Uruguay, South America for a year.
During that year, my friendship with Courtney continued. It was not the same. I missed seeing her face and hearing her voice, but I was away from all of my friends that year. I felt Courtney in my life in a special way all year long. Courtney was able to transcend time and space in a way my other friends could not. I saw butterflies everywhere, and because I believe in life after death, I was able to see the butterflies as more than a random encounter. I choose to see them as Courtney’s presence in my life because of her tattoo, because of what a butterfly symbolizes about life after death for me. My faith lenses helped. Even when I was totally alone, I never felt alone.
Toward the end of my time in Uruguay, I took a two day trip to a huge National Park with surging waterfalls around every turn. It was heavenly, and there were multiple butterflies flirting with my face the entire hike. It was like the butterflies were accompanying me on my way. Then I remembered it was Courtney’s birthday, and I was filled with memories and joy. I felt the love of God and the affection of Courtney in a real, tangible way.
The Day of the Dead is a day to celebrate that death ends life, but it does not need to end a relationships. It is a day to put on our faith lenses and see past the human mortal limitations of our world. It is a day to recognize that love wins out over fear and life swallows death. It is a day full of butterflies.
Who have you lost in your life?
Do you feel their presence in any way?
How do you picture the communion of saints?
What do you faith lenses help you to see in the world?