In the deep midwinter is a perfect time for some soul cleaning.
My daughter told me she had a dream that my husband and I died suddenly and it set me to thinking. Of course I didn’t want to think about that. No one does. But I wondered, what if I did die suddenly? I wouldn’t want to, because of course everyone wants to live for a very long time. When it comes right down to it the suddenly part isn’t the problem, because who would be comforted to know the day and hour of their death?
I have things I want to do, places to go, parts of myself to discover. “Hearts unfold like flowers before thee”, the immortal Beethoven pens in his also immortal ‘Ode to Joy’. If I were a flower, my life as I describe it now would be in the full bloom stage, just past bud but far from over-blown. I’m not ready to step off the stage. There is something in me that clings to life, but at the same time wishes to be immortal, like Beethoven.
I thought of all the things I haven’t done yet, and the people I haven’t properly thanked. There are hundreds of people who have contributed to my life in positive ways and dozens of others whose negative influence I’ve learned from as well. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to bear and raise children of whom I am deeply proud, to live with a husband who treats me like a Queen even when I act like one. I’d like to have another 30 plus years and see grandchildren and find out what everyone feels with that grandparenty glow they get.
But what if we thought of this life as a sort of rehearsal, where we practiced being decent human beings, a kind of pre-life for what’s to come? I think everyone hopes that this life is not all there is. Even in old age we feel that we’ve only just begun to learn how to live. Jesus promised us eternal life, and we believe him because that’s exactly what we want. With a caveat. We want the next life to be a lot like this one, because it’s all we know.
Jordan Peterson says that faith is a belief in being itself. God called himself, “I AM”. That is a declaration of being that is simple and yet profound. And I’ve staked my life on trusting God. My life is in His hands. And my death, which is just a continuation of this existence that I know so well.
In the moment of this solstice, the place between dark and light, there is a tension that we cannot escape. We have no choice over our birth or death, but ironically we have a myriad of choices in this inbetween of life. Here’s to choosing wisely.