Departures? – 12 September 2022

As the sun begins to go down at the end of the day, a small boat makes its way across a lake. The water is pink and still. There are a small number of people in the boat, including women turning their heads to look towards the jetty. Two women watch the boat, their backs to the viewer so that no faces can be seen.

At first glance at this picture, it is not obvious if the boat is departing or arriving. Are the women on the jetty sad at a departure, or anticipating an arrival? So, is the boat departing, leaving one place to makes its way to at another, more distance, indistinct. Then the two women are watching the boat until it is out of sight. Maybe then it will have come into sight for those who are waiting for it in a far away place, where there will be rejoicing. Or, is this the arrival of those long missed and much anticipated. The direction of travel remains unclear, even under close scrutiny. You, the viewer, decide.

At this time when the death of Her Majesty the Queen is so much in our minds, many other deaths and departures will be present for us, remembered with fresh emotion. We are reminded that every death is also an arrival. The ones who left here surrounded by sadness, are welcomed elsewhere with joy.

The picture is, A View from Dosseringen near the Sortedam Lake Looking towards the Suburb Nørrebro outside Copenhagen, Christen Købke, 1838.



“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”

1 Corinthians 2:9


What is dying
I am standing on the seashore, a ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says: “She is gone.”
Gone from my sight that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when someone at my side says,
“She is gone”
there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
“There she comes!”
and that is dying.

Bishop Brent