What is death?
A dialogue between Irinas the dead leaves and Aurelius the angel. The Irinas believe that life is wait and mystery, but they are willing to seize the opportunities of the moment while remaining nostalgic for the past. They fear evil which can take on deceptive appearances.. Aurelius wants to be the guardian of classical Judeo-Christian thought while remaining attentive and compassionate.
Irinas: Aurelius, what is death? There we are, breaking down little by little, losing our colors, the prey of fish and worms, is there anything else?
Aurelius: don’t worry, you just lose one form to gain another. We always belong to two worlds, that of the earth and that of the heavens. You left one to enter the other.
Irinas: but we liked our form, swinging in the wind at the top of the branches, watching the clouds pass, listening to the birds singing. We wanted the future, what it was going to bring us, the variations we were going to experience; now what is left of it?
Aurelius: have you ever forgotten the rain, the hail, the summer heat that bothered you? Have you not complained about this? Didn’t you want to go somewhere else, live in another tree, not the same branch, closer to the trunk? Do you not see that to some extent, your wishes have been fulfilled?
Irinas: we knew that death was at the end of our life and that is what encouraged us to live fully and to want to improve our condition, but we did not want to change in such a radical way. We weren’t ready for it.
Aurelius: life and death are love, one sets you in motion, the other lifts you up. It is this knowledge that allows you to enjoy the 1st one and that is also what should allow you not to regret what has disappeared.
Irinas: could we have lived more if we had better enjoyed our existence?
Aurelius: no, you know that no green leaves spend winter here. Your death was scheduled whatever you did and you saw that it was as much an obstacle as a tool. This led you to take advantage of the moments that were granted to you. There is nothing to regret.
Irinas: it is because we have lived well that we are all the more sad to leave. The nostalgia we experience has nothing to do with the reality of the past. It comes from the distance with what was. The transition to this new state of which you speak is not yet easy for us to make.
Aurelius: what you don’t know yet is that all existence is existence which goes beyond individuality. Forget your earthly life and you will understand that you have joined the source of all being rather than having left it.
Irinas: are we therefore nostalgic for lack of clairvoyance?
Aurelius: you cling to a past that will not return because you still love life as you lived it. Only by letting things fade will everything become clear. As you have eternity of love before you, rest assured, everything will be fine.
Irinas: are our thoughts still too earthly?
Aurelius: they are not yet very clear. You always have to make the decisions that will make you happy, even now.
Irinas: but we didn’t choose this moment.
Aurelius: you knew, however, that it would come and you acted with this knowledge. Your destiny is still in your hands but you have to believe it to understand it.
Irinas: it’s cold and humid here, it’s not funny.
Aurelius: this is just a transition. Think about what I told you and see what you want to do with it. For my part, I’m going to fly elsewhere and see where others call me.
Death remains a mystery to all creatures and it is the object of this dialogue.
The Irinas regret the past even if they recognize that they lived it to the best of their ability thanks to the knowledge they had of their ineluctable death.
Aurelius assures them that it is in fact only a question of a transformation, of a transition to a state where their apparent individuality merges into the universality of nature. They were already part of the whole but only death allows them to fully understand it. So there is nothing to regret, just embracing this new state with confidence.
How does the idea of death orient our existence?
To change, isn’t it already dying a little?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, Forgiveness by Vladimir Jankelevitch. It doesn’t address death directly (his book about death is only available in French), but by reading is, you’ll understand better why Irina says what she says.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of Irinas and Aurelius? Their favorite books are in the domain library.