Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Life and death. They are somehow sweetly
and beautifully mixed, but I don't know how.
My mother and I could always look out the same
window without ever seeing the same thing.
Gloria Swanson, actress; she was born on this
date, 1899, at Chicago
Well. I’ve thought about Life and Death over the decades. Gloria is right. For over 40 years I’ve preached about it … and my brain and intelligence have tried to make sense of it, for myself and for others. It isn’t easy! Countless theologians have tried too … but I don’t think it “works” without poets and artists. Which is to say, the human Imagination is critical. That’s what “sweetly and beautifully” remind us of.
However, I think I know some of the “how”. Physical birth and physical death are mythical symbols of a timeless reality. There isn’t a moment of this earthly life that we aren’t alternating between Living and Dying. “Being” is the flow between them, at least as I experience it. We are constantly “letting go” and “taking up”. Every moment, the body sheds its physicality … until every few years we are totally what we were not. Everything is replaced. I find the same thing to be true of an evolving person psychologically, psychically, emotionally, neurologically, metaphysically, ”spiritually”, morally, ethically.
You can see when human beings are not evolving, when the process has malfunctioned: Santorum, Bachmann, Limbaugh, Dodson, Cheney, Robertson, Khomeini, Putin, Bush, Harper, Paisley, Mugabe, to name a few … the list is depressingly long. Death has taken hold; Love and Kindness and Caring and Compassion have been squeezed out. What is left is a cadaver. I see the spectre of Death as I gaze about the World … with, thank God, oases of Life.
We all perceive differently, as Ms. Swanson illustrates in the comment about her and her mother. I think its because - certainly these days - we idolize Difference rather than Commonality. Most religion makes it clear that we are One with the Universe and with each other … but (as my cousin James says) Ego overpowers us. Ego has an important role to play in the establishment of Identity … but is easily seduced for darker purposes.
If we want Health, Wholeness, both individually and as a race, we must constantly alternate between Death and Life. That is the message of the profound myth of the Christ’s death and resurrection. Die to separation and live to unity. Die to selfishness and live to generosity. This list, too, is endless.
“God” is not going to come on a cloud, intervene and “fix” this.
“God” is only going to heal us when we allow Her to remove our hearts of stone and give us a heart of flesh.