... in an undertakers

Published on 09 Oct 2019
A lamp

On my walk home on dark nights I pass an undertakers premises. The road is pretty quiet at night, and I don't much like being out on a lonely road at night. I find the sight of the undertakers, where there is always a light in the window, strangely reassuring. 

I think there is always a light on because they are on-call for 24 hours. Someone else might find this reminder of death morbid, or ghoulish, but I find it easier when I think of death and funeral as a part of life. The light in the window reminds me of the hymn by Cardinal Newman, who will be canonised soon:

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,

Lead Thou me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home,

Lead Thou me on!

Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I think the Victorians were so used to death as people died so much younger (especially children, women in childbirth and young men in industrial accidents) that they thought about death in an everyday way. These days we avoid thinking about it if we can. Yet as Christians, we ought to be able to contemplate death, even our own, with a sense of peace, knowing what awaits us beyond. I think that light in the window also reminds me of the sanctuary lamp which reminds us of the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament. God is there throughout.