March 3, 2009

Onward to Death

Last night I was scanning some old pictures that I found in my room. It's really something to look at yourself in the past and wonder about that person. You recognize yourself, and know that it's you, but the person in the picture is also mysterious and opaque, somebody else in a different place with thoughts and dreams that might have become quite foreign over the intervening years.

It got me thinking about death, and what it means spiritually. This life culminates in our death, so to think of ourselves in process is always to think about where it will all end up. Every moment that comes and goes presents us with a choice of what sort of person we are going to be. Each day our lives become that much less subject to revision. Finally, at the moment of our death, for better or for worse, we have decided who we are going to be in the world and all we were to God, ourselves, and each other goes into the immutability of eternity. The prayer at the beginning of the wake service puts this together so well for me: "We believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel in death." Not only are they not unraveled, but they are made permanently durable in the eternity of God.

Each day we decide what kind of death will crown our lives.

Here's your humble blogger, just over half of my life ago:


Abbey said...

Grandma K sent me over. I love this post. It speaks words that I have thought for quite some time. Photos of my youth seem surreal. The times and events are like dreams. Being a work in progress, I have evolved more than my young mind could have ever comprehended. Isn't life amazingly wonderful?

Enjoyed this very much.


4narnia said...

great post and photo, Fr. C! this is really something to think about. it's true about looking back at the past and realizing how much our "thoughts and dreams" have changed over time. in most circumstances, it's good that we change and grow over time because, hopefully, that means we are growing closer to God each day of our lives. it says somewhere in Sacred Scripture (or is it in a hymn?) that God is the Potter and we are the clay - He holds us in the palm of His hand and is molding us and shaping us throughout our lives. PEACE!

Brother Charles said...

Both Jeremiah and Isaiah take up this image, and it's also used in songs. Peace!

Coletta said...

This was a wonderful thing to read today. It is my 50th birthday. I am certainly thanking God for my life and also facing my mortality more directly than I dared when I was younger. Thank u for putting it into words that also are encouraging.

Ave Maria!

Brother Charles said...

I have to admit, Coletta, that part of my reflections are induced by the birthday I had the other day!

AngelinOsNY said...

I often look at old pictures of myself and wonder about about that person. Where I was, where I was going to, and how far I've come.I enjoy reading your posts about death. At one time I used to feel overwhelmed and anxious, whether it was about myself or loss of a loved one but your gift of tying scripture and prayer to your posts, I feel a sense calm and reflective,that my loved one and/or myself might enjoy eternity with God. Thanks!

GrandmaK said...

I look back too, and wonder how I was or how I managed at times. Much to my chagrin I remember the most important part of that person's life was not an integral part of my being. There were A LOT of weeds in the garden of my soul...There are weeds in the garden now but at least it is being tended to. Thank you for this grand offering...Cathy