TAPS: Life after Death
an article for the January 2008 Deep Cove Crier
by the Rev. Ed Hird+
As we enter the 2008 New Year, many are wondering about what lies ahead this year. Every new beginning is both a fresh start and a death to that which went before us.
I have discovered that you cannot say ‘yes’ to something new without saying ‘no’ to something else. Sometimes in our frantic culture, we keep adding endless things to our agendas, our lives, and our family. Eventually emotional indigestion sets in. Without healthy boundaries, everything crashes. The joy of life itself disappears.
In reflecting on the 2008 New Year, I was struck by the appropriateness of the bugle song Taps.
“Day is done, gone the sun
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.”
What gives us hope for this 2008 New Year, as we have bid farewell to 2007? The Year 2007 is gone, never to be retrieved again, except in our memories. But we can safely rest, for God is nigh. In the uncertainty of the unfolding future, we can say ‘It is well with my soul’ for God is nigh. In the pain of grief, tragedy, and unexpected suffering, we can say that there is hope, because God is nigh.The bugle call was written in 1862 by the Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, an American Civil War general.
Taps also replaced "Tattoo", the French bugle call for "lights out." Within months, Taps was used by both Union and Confederate forces.
The Taps bugler continues:
“Then goodnight, peaceful night;
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright.
God is near, do not fear,
Taps is a very sad bugle song. Few songs touch our hearts more deeply. That is why it is so appropriate at military funerals. At the 1999 Taps Arlington Ceremony, Chaplain Colonel Brogan said the following: “Lord of our lives, our hope in death, we cannot listen to Taps without our souls stirring. Its plaintive notes are a prayer in music--of hope, of peace, of grief, of rest... Prepare us too, Lord, for our final bugle call when you summon us home! When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and death will be no more."
At the heart of Taps is an assurance that the light of the dawn will shine brightly. Light is always stronger than darkness. Love is stronger than hate. Life is stronger than death.
Taps reminds us that there is life after death. Sometimes we experience smaller deaths like the death of a job, a marriage, or a relationship. Other times we experience the finality of a loved one’s funeral. Taps reminds us that even in great pain and tragedy, “God is near, do not fear’.
Life can be very hard, sometimes heart-breaking. In this 2008 New Year, may you find great comfort that there is life after every kind of death. Jesus on the cross assured that. God is near.
The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, BC
Anglican Coalition in Canada