Monday, March 15, 2010

Whose Coffin Would You Carry?

Friday night, I went to see Fela on Broadway.  It was, in turns, jubilant and heart wrenching – most notably when the projected mugshots that followed the storming of his compound reminded the audience that the bigger-than-life characters we were dancing with were based on life, and especially that the gorgeous female dancers we might have thought of as merely ‘backup’ each had a tragic spotlight of her own.

But the most resonant moment for me was not when the body of ‘truth’ broke the surface of the water, but when, back in the safety of the performance, the character of Fela decides to carry his mother’s coffin to the seat of government and place her on the stairs to show his country what a true leader looks like.  He turns to us and invites us to join him.  He asks, “Whose coffin would you carry?”

Whose coffin would you carry? 

Who do you love that much?  What do you stand for?

These are very important questions as we try to raise ourselves out of a prolonged period of fear:  fear of losing our jobs or having lost them, fear of losing homes, the market crashing; fear that our country is busy killing people in other countries, and that they are killing us.  The corruption of government that Fela spoke out against was rooted in the same greed and need to control and fear of lack that we all face: that every country, group and individual must face down in our own souls.

Whose coffin would you carry?

I invite you to answer.

6 comments:

septembermom said...

My beloved Dad has been gone for almost 10 years now. I would choose to carry his coffin. He was a man of compassion, patience, insight, and intelligence. He took the time to truly listen to another. When he spoke with you, it felt like he placed your hopes, dreams and concerns in a place of honor. Thank you for this moment to think of him.

reiko rizzuto said...

Thank you for sharing your father. Everyone's hopes and dreams and concerns should be held in a place of honor. I am glad he did that for you. Pass it on.

Meditator said...

My son died in a freak accident at 19. We had him cremated, and the urn sat on the shelf for several years. People told us we had to do something with it. I told them we had - we'd put it on the shelf. When we finally decided to bury the ashes (I refuse to use the word cremains), we put them on top of my father-in-law's grave. I carried them from our Chicago suburb to the southern Illinois gravesite and put them in the hole dug by the undertaker's men.

reiko said...

I lost a dear sister/friend in a freak accident at 33. I carried her coffin at the funeral. I volunteered immediately, even as I cursed her for "asking" for something so hard. There was a long line of friends who wanted to do it - too many to accommodate. I could have passed the honor on, but it was an honor, as sick and sad and full of love as it made me feel. I had to do it.

I am glad you kept your son on the shelf for as long as you needed him there. I am sure he is still with you.

Thank you.

Beth Kephart said...

Gorgeous Reiko. I've wanted to see Fela, and I love the question it provoked for you.

My son. My husband. My dear friends. I would say that I would carry your coffin, but you will always live.

ming said...

Whose coffin would I carry? A provocative question indeed! Your question brings up a contemplation for me. Do I carry only the coffins of my loved ones, or do I make an effort to share my love and vibration with the seen and unseen world while I am still here and alive? Rejoice the opportunity of choice.