My beloved Oma was one of my best friends. And yet she is with me constantly. It’s not easy, it never will be, but it changes. I am learning to become more natural in my connection with her, even though I can’t see her. I can still feel her presence, I can still feel her love.
I spoke this from memory at her service, and I still love it to this day. Oma, I know you are “just around the corner.” I love you, Oma.
\”Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away to the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, That, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effect. Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was. There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you. For an interval. Somewhere. Very near. Just around the corner. All is well.\”
—Henry Scott Holland
Henry Scott Holland was Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford. He was also a canon of Christ Church, Oxford.
Henry was born at Ledbury, Herefordshire the son of George Henry Holland of Dumbleton Hall, Evesham, and of the Hon. Charlotte Dorothy Gifford, the daughter of Lord Gifford. He finished his studies in Balliol College in Oxford, England where he had the Oxford degrees of DD, MA, and Honorary DLitt. He was elected as a Student (fellow) of Christ Church, Oxford after graduation and later went to St Paul\’s Cathedral where he was appointed canon in 1884.
He was keenly interested in social justice and formed PESEK (Politics, Economics, Socialism, Ethics and Christianity) and tried to heal urban poverty. In 1889, he formed the Christian Social Union. In 1910, he was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, a post he held until his death in 1918. While at St Paul’s Cathedral, Holland delivered a sermon in May 1910 following the death of King Edward VII, titled Death the King of Terrors, in which he explores the natural but seemingly contradictory responses to death: the fear of the unexplained and the belief in continuity. It is from his discussion of the latter that perhaps his best-known writing, Death is nothing at all, is drawn:
“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!”
The affinity of Holland\’s passage to St. Augustine\’s thoughts in his 4th Century letter 263 to Sapida is clear. In it St. Augustin writes that Sapida\’s brother and their love, although he has died, still are there, like gold that still is yours even if you save it in some locker.
Bio Source: Wikipedia Fig¹. Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash