A few days ago, on a lunchtime stroll around midtown Manhattan, I passed a pigeon that apparently had been hit by a car. It was flopping around on the sidewalk in a pathetic and hopeless attempt to right its twisted body. A well-intentioned young woman was trying to reach some humane society on her cellphone to come take the bird away to help it, presumably at some imagined pigeon healing center. (It was hard not to guffaw at her naivete.)
I stood there and knew the only thing that could be done for the bird was to end its suffering quickly. No doubt it was my imagination, but at one point the bird stopped flopping and seemed to look right at me with a plea to do just that. I figured it would be fairly simple: take the bird in my hands, try to calm it, and then give its neck a sharp, sudden twist.
I couldn't do it.
My beliefs say the gods are not only around us, but in us; in a very real sense, they *are* us. But I didn't have the heart/courage to summon the goddess of death, to make my hands Hers for a moment, when clearly that was what was needed.
What would you have done in that situation? What would your beliefs have called upon you to do? And in a very real, practical sense, what role does death play in your daily life? What role do you think it should play?
[Like many nature-based pagans, I also believe in the importance of balance to the natural order, including (especially) the balance between life and death. I think some mainstream religions fetishize life. Maybe because we're coming up on the autumn equinox, a time of balance, this incident and its implications keep returning to my mind...]
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