I had an interesting day yesterday, finding myself involved with two separate incidents, the death of a baby and a young adult.
In these moments I’m reminded of the fragility of life and the inevitability of death for all of us.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about the importance of confronting death as I’ve been reading M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Travelled and Beyond.
Quoting Senneca, Peck highlights that “Throughout the whole of life one must continue to learn to live, and what will amaze you even more, throughout life one must learn to die.” Peck suggests that this idea is about a “fearsome learning of how to consciously give up control of our lives when it’s approprariate to do so – and ultimately hand ourselves over to God.” This is the purpose of our life, championed by the inevitability of our death.
Yet our natural and ever increasing tendency as both individuals and a society, is to do everything to maintain and cling to control of our lives, resisting the opportunity to fully embrace life by denying and avoiding death.
As I thought about all this, it drew me to think of Jesus words in Luke 9:23-25….
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?…
I then came across a post by Parker Palmer where he quoted this Mary Oliver poem
When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited the world.
Contemplating all of these words, I wonder, how now should I live?