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Opinions of Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

Reflections: nearer my God to thee (farewell to Gladys Tsotsoo Mann-Dedey)

At this time of the year, many organizations undertake half year reviews (H1), and so let us today reflect on the theme of death.

What has death got to do with half year reviews?

Well, in practical terms, some people will get fired for poor performance; there will be job losses; and others will decide to move on.

In this sense, death has a symbolic meaning beyond the literal which many fear.

But to the just and faithful, death has no terrors equal to the stain of falsehood and dishonour. Therefore, if you have to part ways with your employees, employers or anyone for any reason, you do not have to fear so long as you have acted in a “right and just” manner.

The song “Nearer my God to Thee” composed by Sarah Flower Adams who died aged 43, was themed on Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:11-12).

Thinking about the tune reveals several layers of meaning; the mood of death; a river passing away and never returning; the Buddha’s decision to find a cure to all suffering and death.

When a woman who had lost her first born son came to the Buddha asking for a resurrection, he asked her to fetch some mustard seeds from a family which had not suffered death. Of course she failed.

Like that woman we may have lost relations, work colleagues, been swindled in Ponzi schemes, fallen out of favour, or someone with a new and higher set of skills may have taken our place – no one can escape death and suffering.

The tune of “Nearer my God” to thee as played with the violin in the Titanic movie or on a flute brings immediate thoughts of death; feelings of melancholy; some musical instruments are just great for dirges.

In the story of Jacob’s ladder which the author reflected upon however, there were angels ascending and descending a staircase to heaven. Does this suggest that without death we cannot see God?

As the people of La and the administration of President Akufo-Addo mourn the late Mrs Gladys Tsotsoo Maku Mann-Dedey, 64, La Dadekotopon Municipal Chief Executive, who was laid to rest on 2nd August, it is our prayer that everyone will take time to reflect on Bethel, where Jacob put his head on a stone and meditated on the meaning of life.

We must die to our unwholesome thoughts daily so that we can approach the Throne of Grace with a firm but humble confidence.

Let us therefore reflect through metacognition on our national budgets, our corporate half year performances, our various anniversaries and the numerous departures and see whether we are doing the right things that will take us to heaven – that eschatological heaven which we must experience here and now.

The Buddha started out on his religious career by looking for a cure for death and suffering. He failed in the former, at least in the literal sense. Thankfully, he found a cure for suffering – a Path to end suffering; everyone can be enlightened.

At every Bethel moment, may our song of reflection be: “Still all my song shall be nearer my God to thee.”

Awula Tsotsoo, yaaw? y? Nu?ts? l? kp?k?a?? – Rest peacefully in the lair of the Lord.

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