Friday, February 20, 2015

First Friday in Lent

Lent can remind us of our mortality and sober our thinking and attitudes that we allow slack during other parts of the year. But the realization of our mortality need not be morose or defeatist in its affect on us. Indeed, if noticing our own mortality helps us to stop and refocus on God, we can instead rejoice, grasp, and look forward to the Life immortal that He has given us and promised forever.

Acknowledging our mortality prepares us to let go of impermanence, of deterioration, of illness and even of death. We can let go of death as a threat, as something to be feared and avoided at all costs. Rather, we can accept it knowing that it is but a beginning.

A beginning to Life, real Life that will have no end. A Life with and in God in an even more perfect manner than we can experience in our current bodies.This anticipated transition, of becoming and not ending, has formed the basis of faith for more than one disciple in the history of the church. It has consistently brought forth praise and even a bit of frustration or disappointment. Paul we know was torn between going to be with God, or remaining on earth. For him to have lived would be Christ; for him to have died would gain.

Gain that cannot be realized if we hold on to mortality and avoid falling into Life with God. This Life is the promise, but it comes with death as the door. Don't rue your mortality; anticipate with gladness the resurrection. As someone has said, "it's Friday, but Sunday's coming!"

This Lent, practice letting go of some stuff, of some plans, of some ego need. This Lent, reach out for Life.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

First Thursday of Lent

While in therapist school one of the exercises involves crafting your own timeline. You are asked to include major milestones, family members, significant events, and whatnot. This timeline isn’t just a history rehearsal, but is carried into the future – projected milestones and deaths of important people and family members. The idea is to review the people and events that have shaped your history, and then to “look into your future” and anticipate other shaping events. Writing down the actuarial expected dates of others’ deaths can be eye opening, revealing both their mortality and the relatively nearness of that mortality.

This interest in mortality is not limited to therapy students however. The Christian tradition, especially the monastic schools also appreciate acknowledging and accepting death – one’s own. This has a number of affects. One is that we must face our mortality and grasp it as real. No matter how well we may feel at the moment, or how well life is working for us right now, we will die. We will not be able to avoid it. This realization is intended to help us let go of our own plans; our own egos that seek to live forever. In remembering that we are mortal, we can both acknowledge that we are not God and our lives are relatively short.

We have some choices to make. Knowing our mortality, we can go for the gusto and leave behind only those things that will perish and fade – money, houses, cars, stuff. Alternatively, we can let our mortality move us toward more permanent endeavors – other people, dispersing grace, growing into the likeness of God, showing compassion. These will not fade but will last far past our own deaths.


During Lent we have a chance to reflect on our own mortality, to correct our direction, to pursue values that actually mean something. We don’t have forever; many of us don’t have much time at all. When we come to our moment of death, what will become of us? What will become of you?

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