Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Mortality

Here's a definition of irony: Having your pastor intone "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return," while smudging your Olay-Regenerist-slathered forehead with ashes.

That's almost laugh-out-loud funny.

Other things aren't.

Your pastor's nervous jokes about heading on a trip to the Middle East, at this time in history, with a group of other Christian clergypeople. Your nervous rejoinder that, "Well, it could be worse -- you could be traveling with the Danish Political Cartoonists' Association."

The death, within a couple of days, of Kirby Puckett and Dana Reeve -- people your own age, dying of diseases you like to tell yourself happen to old people. Your getting winded and sore shoveling your car out of two feet of snow, and worrying for the first time in your life that you might have a heart attack if you keep this up too long.

Your noticing your mother's declining health and cognitive ability; the increasingly Groundhog Day quality of life in your household as you tell her the same information over and over and over again; the increasing scope of her not remembering; knowing that this is probably going to get worse, not better.

Your thinking about your own life's winding down...about the distinct possibility that you are going to be all alone when this happens; about the equally distinct possibility that the at least decent quality of life that most older people in this country now enjoy will no longer exist.

I know I'm sometimes slow on the uptake, but it seems to have taken Ash Wednesday a whole week to percolate through my psyche.

I'm standing on the edge of the wilderness where I know that things are going to be gradually stripped away...stripped away...stripped away...but there's no other direction to travel. I think back to something I think my blog-friend Emily shared from a sermon: Why not die to yourself now and get it over with.

4 comments:

Emily said...

Yes, as someone who is closer to forty than she would like to admit, and who still thinks of herself often as the youngest person in the room, I have found Kirby Puckett and Dana Reeve's deaths attention-getting this week.

I do love your imagery of ashes and Olay.

Rainbow Pastor said...

Oh, LC...

There is indeed something about Lent that induces thoughts of mortality.

I've been thinking of all the mistakes I've made in my life and how very much I wish I could go back and have a "do-over." Some of them I can learn from and not repeat, but for some of them, it's just too late--those situations won't come around again. They have to remain as they are--not done right, forever marring whatever lives they touched. And I am sorry. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa...

All I know to do is hang on, because you're going to make a positive difference in someone's life.

Mata H said...

I am 56. It seems to me that having a 'developmental task' to perform does not end in early adulthood. The task I am set with now, is the task we all have as we age --it is learning to handle loss. More and more falls away, which (on my best days) causes me to see the wealth and depth in what remains. I have a different sense of life's rhythms now, of the arrivals and departures of things, of people, of conditions. Do not be afraid, LC -- there is goodness here; there are treasures yet, and unimagined abundances.

joyfulsoul said...

"I'm standing on the edge of the wilderness where I know that things are going to be gradually stripped away...stripped away...stripped away...but there's no other direction to travel. I think back to something I think my blog-friend Emily shared from a sermon: Why not die to yourself now and get it over with."

I feel that way too. I hear the call go out to die to myself. It is in my mind like the sound of the muezzin who faithfully sound out the call to prayers. Because all that will remain in the end are the things that will survive through the fire and the rest will be burnt and none of it will remain, will last.

The irony, of course, of it all - is that only through dying can we find freedom. Only through dying can we find life and truly become "ourselves."

Thank you for such a thought-provoking entry, LC.