Thursday, June 22, 2006

Mortality

There's something about watching someone die over the course of 3 years that brings a certain sobriety to your life. The Monastics speak of "the constant remembrance of death" as a spiritual discipline, that is, remembering that we are one heartbeat away from facing judgment. We drive, walk, eat, shop and sleep usually without a thought for the fact that we could be instantly killed by a sleeping driver, a random act of violence, a freak accident or a physical anamoly that no one knew existed in our bodies. No one is exempt from death, but we live as if we are immortal in THIS flesh. Not the flesh of our resurrection but the flesh that we feed, cater to, submit to and pamper. Even though it will eventually go into a hole in the earth and be eaten by the lowly worms, our flesh rules our immortal soul in this life. At nearly 54 now, every new and unidentifiable pain, every new spot and wrinkle, every weakness is a harbinger of death, a fleshly "post it" reminding me I am indeed fragile, failing, slowly rotting away within and without.

So what is the response of the human being to the self awareness of our own corruptibility? Join a spa, get a tan, get cut, tucked, rolled and lifted? Deny death and its messengers? No. I choose to look in the mirror and face reality, then thank God for and heed the warning that my "days are as grass; as a flower of the field so I flourished, but the wind is passing over me and soon I will be gone and the place thereof shall know me no more. " My days to repent are limited...they always have been, but tomorrow was always an assumed promise. I see the godliness I have yet to attain to and I know I don't have enough years left to reach my own vision much less God's vision for my life. It is not so much that I fear God as much as I sorrow that I am after all these years, still an adulterer in and with my own flesh, and I continue to grieve the One who is Faithful and True.

How then shall I live? As one who is dying. But I will not succumb to the classic "living in death mode": suddenly throwing aside all normalcy and doing life artificially, frenetically and extraordinarily, trying one last immoral tryst, taking exotic vacations and buying the frivilous things I denied myself in my responsible days, but by taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ as St. Paul said. Every thought, not only the great ones, the clever and spiritual, the ambitious and enlightened ones. Every thought...no matter how ordinary, mundane, repetitive, and unremarkable, because every one is precious to God my Beloved if offered to Him.

2 comments:

McKenzie said...

what's up with you and death lately?

Meg said...

Um, watching his father-in-law die by inches???

Me, I've thought about death since losing my own father at age 2. 58 years is a loooooooong time to live with the notion that you could snuff it any second, and it has one unfortunate by-product: The thought does absolutely nothing to shake me out of my comfort level. It's been there so long, it's just part of the scenery. What *does* help, though, is thinking about being face to face not just with God, but with what's in His hands: An icon of me in His right hand, and a mirror in His left. The icon of me that He holds is what He envisioned me to be when He created me, and *I* get to judge how closely the image in the mirror resembles the image in the icon. Only, of course, standing face to face with God, there is no running from the truth. So the goal then becomes not, How shall I answer when I am judged, but rather, What am I *really* supposed to look like in the sight of God, and how can I get there in whatever time remains? OHyeah, there's a challenge!