When I was a small boy,just as many children in the world today, I was surrounded by death. It was during WW2; and not a day went by without one or two children being absent from school because a father,brother,uncle,cousin,had been killed. Added to this was the many deaths from bombing; deaths were not only of the Armed Services!
Then, of course, there were the "normal" deaths of old age and illness. And in those days, death was not "covered up".The dead were not "resting" in those sentimental "Funeral Parlours". The corpse was at home, in an open coffin; so that all the neighbours (including children) could come and see the dead person,and pay their last respects; even say a prayer or two.
So, you see? Death was not "hidden" from children in those far off days! We accepted death as part of life.
I was attending a Catholic school. All we were taught about death was that if you were good you went to Heaven,and if you were bad you went to Hell.And,somehow, if you were not "too" bad, you went to a sort of halfway house called Purgatory!
I must have been about 12 years old when I asked the lady who became my lifelong teacher,friend,and "second mother" about what happened after we died. . I told her about Heaven and Hell.
And my old teacher (Old? She would have been about 40!) said,
"Come with me.We'll go for a walk"
And we walked to the village church, and walked among the graves.We even sat for a while on an over-turned gravestone,and my teacher told me about death. She said,
"Look around you, and tell me what you see."
I said that I could see the church and a lot of graves. She said,
"Don't you see all that lush green grass? All those bushes and trees?".
"Oh,yes, I see those!"
Then she asked me,
"And do you see all the insects? All the butterflies and bees? All the birds?"
"Yes, I can see all those!"
"Then listen to what I am going to tell you.And later you can write it down in your notebook.The reason for all that lush green grass.All those trees and bushes.Is because all those plants, and flowers,and trees, are being fed by the bodies under the ground.
You have seen dead animals, and how they rot away? Well, the same thing happens to our bodies! We rot. And all the chemicals that are in our bodies goes into the ground, and 'feeds' the plants. Then all the birds,and insects,and wild animals,feed on the plants. And so we live again. Not as other Humans,but as a different form of life. Life is a circle. Birth and Death are both part of the circle. All that lives must die,so that Life can continue."
I thought a bit about what she'd said. Then I said,
" So my school is wrong!"
"Oh,no!" she said, "Not wrong.Just not telling the whole truth. Many people believe that, as well as having a body, we also have a "spirit", a "soul"; and it is this spirit that goes to Heaven or Hell.But that is just a belief.What I have just told you is fact!"
And that is how I learnt the difference between belief and fact. A lesson that should be taught to every child; but rarely ever is!
Ressurection. It is all there in the burial service;
"Earth to earth; ashes to ashes; dust to dust!".
My witch teacher didn't like burials.She said the process is too slow. Cremation is quicker,and cleaner, so long as the ashes are scattered on the ground; and not kept in those silly "caskets".
When I asked my mother if she liked burial or cremation, she said,
"We live on an island.Burials are a criminal waste of land!"
Yes, I agree!
There is an old Yorkshire folk song that tells the same story as the one I have written above. As it is in Yorkshire dialect,it would not be understood very much outside Yorkshire. So I will "summerize" the story in Modern English. THe song is called "Ilkla Moor baht'at" (Ilkley Moor without a hat.).Here's the song of Resurrection.
You've been courting Mary Jane
On ILkley moor without a hat.
You'll get your death of cold
Then we shall have to bury you.
Then the worms will eat you.
Then the ducks will eat the worms.
Then we will eat the ducks!
Then we will all have eaten you!