Thursday, September 07, 2006

Reality Check

Life in Brazil is much less cosmetic. Reality here is more "real". Material wealth and cultural customs allow some nations to put a less shocking spin on reality. Even so, the reality remains the same even under the cosmetic cover and cultural attempts to blunt reality.

Yesterday in the morning I passed a smiling brother in Christ working on our church property. Less than 8 hours later I was passing his still body in the church chapel. A heart attack had taken him from this world to our Lord's presence. Only his body remained to create a reality check in all of our lives.

I have done hundreds and hundreds of funerals in the USA. The American culture and wealth have allowed us to make this reality check called death slow down and seem a little less shocking. Here in Brazil bodies are not embalmed and by law the burial must be within 24 hours of the death. So much for trying to lessen the impact of death. In reality we can't.

What is interestiing is that in this 24 hours Brazilians do more about the death than we as Americans often do in four or five days. Brazilians stop everything immediately and face death. Brazilians spend the entire night with the family and with the body of the one who has died. Brazilians weep deeply and immediately. In 24 hours the entire public process is over and the reality of life and death has left its mark for each to deal with privately.

I am not sure which way of facing death is better, but I can certainly say that death here gets one's undivided attention for 24 hours. I think that is a good thing because it allows for no cosmetic answers or money based rationalizing. Death is really here, but so is life in Jesus.

The death of my Chrisitan brother Ricardo at 48 years of age has left me with two images. One is the smile he gave me in the morning. The second is the stillness of his body in the evening. Both are real. The smile I will see again. The still body I will never see again. The next time I see him it will be with a smile and an eternal body. That is real and the past 24 hours made me face it more quickly than I am accustomed to.

No comments: