Taking Time To Remember

Ajahn Rewatha & James

Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the death of my little brother, Stewart Iain Taylor.  To mark the event the family held a memorial puja at the Scottish Buddhist Vihara in Glasgow.  The ceremony was lead by Venerable “Bhante” Rewatha who is Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain.  Bhante is the most senior Sri Lankan monk in the UK but is only 39 years old and a very warm, friendly and down to earth guy.

It would be easy to be gloomy on such a day but personally I found it to be insightful for three reasons:

Firstly memorial events are for those that remain, not for the dead.  My brother would have thought we were all bonkers for spending the day in a Buddhist temple complete with saffron clad monks chanting in Pali.  However the day brought our family together, not just to celebrate Stewart’s life but to also enjoy each others company.  As I sat sharing tea and homemade cakes with grans, aunts, uncles and nieces, my overwhelming feeling was one of gratitude.  Gratitude for having such a family and gratitude for time we get to spent together laughing about everything from Lady Gaga to the weather.

Secondly such events make us remember what a short amount of time we have on this earth and what a beautiful, delicate rarity human life is.  My life may end tomorrow or in fifty years time and one of the monks spoke eloquently on the importance of using each day to become a wiser, more compassionate and more loving person.

Stewart Taylor (1984-2005)

Finally it gave me a chance to reflect on how Scotland’s record on suicide has improved in recent years.  Every day around 2 people in Scotland take their own life and suicide is one of the main causes of death among young people.  Suicide rates in Scotland have reduced by 10% since 2002, thanks in large part to the governments ‘Choose Life’ programme and the wonderful work of organisations like The Samaritans.  Young men are at particular risk so it is good to see that suicide rates among young men have fallen by more than 40% over a four-year period in Scotland after decades in which the country was blighted by the problem.

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