“Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

John Donne, priest and poet

Dear Friend,

Our brother John gave us these words so many years ago

yet it always comes as a surprise and a shock

when someone who has been part of our lives dies.

In a media saturated age, we have so many people who have been part of our lives!

So much lament of those we have lost to death in the year almost ended

We recite their names like a string of beads: Carrie, George, Prince, David, Philando, Muhammad, Gene…

seeking to hold them and remember what they have been to us.

We know that death is inevitable

but somehow we forget it, with people who seem larger than life.

I pray that You hold us in our grief, and never let us forget the lesson that death teaches us: our time here is not eternal, and in the words of our brother Henri Frederic Amiel,

Life is short,

And we do not have much time

to gladden the hearts of those who

make the journey with us.

So… we must be swift to love,

and make haste to be kind.


Mary Beth Butler is an Episcopal layperson in North Texas. She is a retired university administrator, paving contractor, and occasional blogger.

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