Ferrying the River Styx

These words have occurred to me over and over today. Styx is the river in Greek mythology between earth and the underworld, and the river that the newly dead cross into the afterlife. A ferryman, Charon, transported souls across the river, taking them from one world to the next.

The image I keep seeing is that the living who love those who have just died also need ferrying. There is a river to cross, another world to enter. Not just any ferryman can transport them. There are very specific skills involved in the ferryman’s job. It has to do with an acquaintance with death; ironically death as a living thing, a passage to a different world.

I used to have a quote from Shakespeare taped next to my desk before I moved to North Carolina. I don’t remember the play it came from. It said, “Dying, once dead, there is no more dying then.” At the time the quote meant the world to me because I felt I had been killed by circumstances in my life. The words were a reassurance that after dying once “there is no more dying then.” It can’t happen again. There are different kinds of deaths, but once one happens, the other one loses its power.

Maybe the living who have experienced death then become ferrymen across the River Styx.

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