Many people will have heard this passage of scripture even if they are not Christian. "The word became flesh and dwelt among us." This is from the gospel of John and it is the evangelist's way of talking about Jesus and his relationship to God. For John, "word" is God's creative and redeeming power in the world. This passage is often read at Christmas time to talk about he birth of Jesus.
But, lately, I have been reflecting on what happens when people's lives end. And it seems to me that when death occurs this phrase is reversed: flesh becomes word. When the person we have known is no longer with us in flesh, we busy ourselves speaking words about them. We gather at funeral homes, churches and houses and talk. Words are woven together into stories, and each story is a way of creating a perspective on the deceased.
And we keep talking long after the funeral as we bump into things that remind us of the person who is no longer with us in flesh. When we do, we speak again. We tell stories as a way of insuring that the person does not disappear. Our words, our memories, become the dwelling place. "The flesh becomes word and dwells among us."
And it matters that we get a chance to share the stories with others. For the presence of the person dwells not only in us but among us. Their presence seems stronger when, through words, we re-form them in the stories we tell and the memories we share.
When life ends the way you have known it, when you no longer know someone or something the way they were known, write your words, speak your words, share your words. In that way the gift of that which has been lost can be recreated and continue to dwell among us.