The dash of stories

This past week I was struck by an address by Father Ian Bailey, at a funeral I attended. Ian mentioned that quite often on the funeral notice we see written the birth date and the date the individual passed away, with a dash in the middle. Ian commented that at a funeral what we are remembering and celebrating is in fact that dash.

What would we say or what would others say about our dash?

We remember and learn through stories, often celebrating and sharing life through them. It is these stories that become our dash. These stories may be funny things we have done, examples of our morals and integrity or examples of our lived faith. It is these shared stories that help us connect with one another and with God, as we participate in the shared story we have in Christ.

In our readings this Sunday, the stories we are sharing, suggest that there is more to life than the purely physical. We could use popular phrases such as ‘body, mind, soul’ or ‘earthly and divine’. As physical ‘blood and flesh’ beings we must look after our bodily needs. As spiritual beings we must look after our souls. At times these two aspects of ourselves may not be in balance, after all, things that we can see and touch often may hold our attention more easily. St Paul not only reminds us that we have been raised with Christ, but to also set our minds on things above (Col.3:1-2).

That little dash on a piece of paper, that represents our life is not filled with mere possessions and acts, but also holds the stories of the divine. The intangible presence of God acting in our lives and shaping our actions as we set our minds on the things that are above.