Learning to Die

As usual, Sunday morning was not a time of quiet reflection and good will as we got ready for Mass. This happens more and more, unless I make sure that I’m up early enough to get everyone dressed, fed, and clean, and the diaper bag full, all by myself, as well as getting myself ready to go. I know that my husband is a bear in the morning. You would think that after four years of dealing with his Sunday morning mood I would just know that getting up earlier to take care of all the stuff will save so much anger and frustration. And yet, I still get mad on Sundays when I have to ask for help, or I have to do it on my own. And so, this Sunday I ended up sitting in Mass alone while Josh stayed home with our sleepy and sick kids. And I didn’t get some grand message out of the first homily I’ve actually been able to listen to in probably 3 years. And I didn’t come home feeling more Christ like, with my spirit lifted and new horizons looking bright.

But when I got home, I sat down and read our church bulletin. I don’t know how many people do this, but I usually try to read it, front to back, in the car on the way home from Mass (with Josh driving). It pulls me into my parish, and sometimes it reminds me of so much going on in our Church family, from deaths to marriages to baptisms. And so, this week there was an exerpt from Todd Weir’s Learing to Die. And it spoke to me. I’ve thought about it a lot over the last few days, and thought that maybe others could feel something from it too. And so…

“The truth is parts of us are dying all the time. You probably just lost half a million or so cells just reading this sentence. We all lose about 100,000 cells per second. Fortunately, just as many cells are being reproduced in a healthy body….Apparently cells that don’t die off in normal cycle are a real problem. These cells are related to diseases like cancer and become problematic because they get in the way and block healthy development of the body.”

“I believe this is true in the spiritual and emotional life as well. ‘Those who love their life will lose it, but those who lose their lives for my sake will save it.’ (I like Luke’s words better here because there is so much more at stake than heaven in these words.) Our failure to let go and let some things die is a primary spiritual disease, for new life can’t come without some death. The failure to forgive leads to death of relationship while anger and bitterness ravage the spirit like a cancer. Holding on to regrets strangles hope before it can lift us to new life. Trying to control events and other people leads to frustration, excessive stress, and exhaustion. Forgiveness and letting go of control are spiritual exercises in the art of dying so that new life may abound.”

Ok, God. I’m listening. I’m a control freak. I get angry too quickly, and hold on to silly things for longer than I should. I’m frustrated, stressed, and exhausted. I hear you. I’ll be setting my alarm clock 45 minutes earlier on Sunday. I’ll try to plan a little more, and be more prepared, so that a kink in my schedule won’t stress me out as bad. I’ll let go of that snarky comment. Interestingly, it sounds like all of these problems could also be handled with a nice glass of wine…maybe I’ll do both.


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