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Bring On The Birdsong, Please

I sat outside a hospice facility Sunday afternoon and watched two dead bodies get wheeled out on stretchers in the span of ten minutes. My son sat next to me watching an episode of Spongebob Squarepants (don’t tell the Waldorf school) so as to distract him from the undertaker and the gurney and the plastic-gloved security guard 20 feet away.

It was utterly jarring. At first I was all “ohmygod that’s a dead body right there under that sheet, ohmygod.” Resisted the urge to throw up. And then I realized hospice workers do this all day erry day and we just don’t see it because we make sure we don’t. Death via the back door, engineered out of our lives. So many there to celebrate the first breath and so few there to bless the final one. Hiding those last breaths in austere and soulless end-of-life facilities instead of enveloping them with birdsong and fresh air and sunshine on a wrinkled face.

I’ve spent my adult life studying God and bodies and embodiment philosophy. But none of that th…

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