Births and Deaths

I was reminded in church yesterday that a psychologist once commented that two of the earliest words we learn as children are the words hello and goodbye, I had three baptisms in church yesterday saying hello as a church family to these kids and then we also had an act of memory for those we had said goodbye to through death in the year that is passing. Then I arrived in my office this morning to hear of another death and just for a few moments thought about how the chaos of this season makes me lose perspective. In the monasteries of one order of the Trappist monks, the monks dig a grave. Each day the monks go out to stand and look at the grave. When one of their number dies, he’s put in the grave and then a new grave is dug. They do it they say for perspective.

Morrie Schwatz once commented – “Everyone knows they’re going to die… but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently. There is a better approach. To know you are going to die and to be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you are living.”

I seem to spend most of my life moving between the words of hello and goodbye I just hope I can do it with some perspective and that Advent waitings will give me and all of us meaningful perspective. 

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One Response to Births and Deaths

  1. Sunday morning, as I was reviewing my sermon text before going to church, I received a call about a Good-bye, from just moments before. I quickly showered, dressed, and went to the home. Mrs. was curled up on bed with deceased Mr. (of 60+ years marriage) just holding onto him as the last remnants of warmth departed from his body, and then some bit longer. We sat together in mostly silence, savoring and opening to the mystery of this moment.
    I have not been doing this ministy long enough that that sort of scenario doesn’t move me, powerfully, and did so for the duration of the morning. As we came to the reading of the names of shutins, to whom home communion stewards would take the blessed sacrament, I came to his name, paused, and was troubled to pass on, for too long a pause.
    Hello. Good-bye.
    A powerful posting you offer. I thank you. The beauty is indeed found therein.

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