Lenten Reflection Ten: Leaving Life
Dying Before we Die
What is a pilgrimage, finally? It’s a journey where we walk away from a settled past toward a future infused with a spiritual presence. What we leave behind frees us to step forward, discovering our true self, resting in the mystery of God’s love. That requires dying to our false self, to all the imprisonments of the inflated ego, of vain-glory, and of self-righteous control. In that dying, we discover life, and our truest identity. A faithful pilgrimage continues this pattern to the time of our physical death, when we are embraced by the fullness of Life. We remain afraid of death as long as we do not know who we are.
Question: Are you afraid of death?
Laying Aside Our Oars
When those three Irish pilgrims in 891 cast off in a currach—a boat made of hides, without oars— they were relinquishing themselves to the currents of divine Love. Their eventual destination was the one intended, and they were welcomed by God. The end of life requires a similar relinquishment. The oars we rely on to empower, guide, direct, and control our lives are never adequate. Storms overpower them, setting us adrift. Over time on our pilgrimage we learn how to set them aside, preparing us for that final crossing over the Jordan. And then we remember lyrics by Marty Haugen: “Blessed the pilgrim who learns to embrace, that all is gift, and all is grace.”
Exercise: Imagine your funeral. Think of the song, or hymn, or reading you most would like those who gather to hear. Write it down, and then share, in your journal or with others, what you hope those who hear this would understand, and take away with them.