Daily Meditations

Taking the Sting out of Death. Living Our Passages Well. The Quality of Life.

July 30th, 2020

Taking the Sting out of Death

Dying is returning home. But even though we have been told this many times by many people, we seldom desire to return home. We prefer to stay where we are. We know what we have; we do not know what we will get. Even the most appealing images of the afterlife cannot take away the fear of dying. We cling to life, even when our relationships are difficult, our economic circumstances harsh, and our health quite poor.

Still, Jesus came to take the sting out of death and to help us gradually realize that we don’t have to be afraid of death, since death leads us to the place where the deepest desires of our hearts will be satisfied. It is not easy for us to truly believe that, but every little gesture of trust will bring us closer to this truth.

~From Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey:  A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith

 

Living Our Passages Well

Death is a passage to new life. That sounds very beautiful, but few of us desire to make this passage. It might be helpful to realize that our final passage is preceded by many earlier passages. When we are born we make a passage from life in the womb to life in the family. When we go to school we make a passage from life in the family to life in the larger community. When we get married we make a passage from a life with many options to a life committed to one person. When we retire we make a passage from a life of clearly defined work to a life asking for new creativity and wisdom.

Each of these passages is a death leading to new life. When we live these passages well, we are becoming more prepared for our final passage.

~From Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey:  A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith

 

 The Quality of Life

It is very hard to accept an early death. When friends who are seventy, eighty, or ninety years old die, we may be in deep grief and miss them very much, but we are grateful that they had long lives. But when a teenager, a young adult, or a person at the height of his or her career dies, we feel a protest rising from our hearts: “Why? Why so soon? Why so young? It is unfair.”

But far more important than our quantity of years is the quality of our lives. Jesus died young. St. Francis died young. St. Therese of Lisieux died young. Martin Luther King, Jr., died young. We do not know how long we will live, but this not knowing calls us to live every day, every week, every year of our lives to its fullest potential.

~From Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey:  A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith

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