Death, Rebirth and Letting Go
It's springtime. Spring is a time for rebirth in our lives and renewal. The flowers and green plants in the park across from my house are in full bloom. Animal life is coming alive with rabbits and all kinds of birds in the air and on the lake. It's Easter weekend in fact, and the US has just reached the highest death rate per country on our planet from COVID 19. People I know have started to be affected personally with loss and grief. At the same time my second daughter's birth is expected in less than a month and I can't wait to meet her. The juxtaposition of all the birth and death is strange and allows for unique reflection in quiet moments.
Articles and memes are floating around the internet comparing the various current causes of death, some emphasizing that hunger or other ailments kill more people daily than the face of death we are currently fixated on known as COVID 19. Death has many faces but awaits each of us in our own time. The fastest runners can not outrun it. The most intelligent can not outsmart it. The top 1% in financial abundance cannot buy their way out of it. We each have our own destiny with death that cannot be avoided. Our society on the whole these days does not do well with death but our current situation is forcing us to look at our relationship with it - which can actually be something positive out of all this. Think about it: We hide away the old, we spend huge resources to help us pretend we can stay young as long as possible. We've lost much of the traditional respect for our elders in any real way and tend to shy away from them. We are conditioned to fear death whether or not we have a religious faith that may promise something beyond what we can comprehend. After our last breath, losing our bodies and lives as they are seems scary even if a person has confidence in an afterlife. So let’s take this time to look death in his dark, empty eyes to see what we can learn. Are you ready?
As we stare into the abyss of the unknown Death asks us, perhaps a bit coldly:
"Did you give your greatest gifts to the world or did you hide out? ...Did you do something meaningful with your life? Are you doing it NOW? If not now, when? What holds you back? ...Are you ready to die? If not, why did you not prepare? Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I can come any time. ...Did you act well YOUR part or play someone else's role? ...If you wanted a family, did you start one? Did you spend enough time with them? Did they know in their bones that you loved them? ...You are alive today - you have a chance now to be "reborn" each morning as you wish. Will you keep doing what you have been doing or will you make some changes? We will meet soon enough and I’ll take you into the mystery. We can walk together peacefully, or I will drag you.
...What do you need to do today to let go of your fear of me so that you can embrace me when the time comes"?
Only if we can make peace with the inevitability and inescapabily of our own death and the death of everyone who we love do we find true peace. It doesn't mean we chase death or provoke it prematurely, but if we have the courage to take a sober look we can absorb a great deal of clarity and wisdom. Embracing death allows us to truly embrace life.