Thursday, September 19, 2013

Turns Out I'm Going to Die.

 Move along if you wanted something lighthearted and fluffy on this Thursday afternoon.  Because the past few weeks something has been slowly dawning on me.  I'm dying.  And soon.  I haven't been diagnosed with any terrible disease and I don't have a premonition of some awful accident.  (Well, sometimes I do, but that's just normal paranoia, right?  I'm gonna pretend my chronic envisioning of us plunging over the bridge we have to drive over or of the oncoming truck veering into my lane as completely normal for the moment, kay?)  I really am going to die.  You are, too.  Whether it's tomorrow or a few years from now or when I'm old and wrinkly and clinging to a hospital bed, it's going to happen, guaranteed.  And then it's just going to be me, my choices, my state of heart, and...Him.  

I don't know if He'll let me dribble on my excuses or if they'll be some infused knowledge of all. the. things. and where I stand in all of it (likely the latter, I suppose) but in the end, this is all going to end.  It's a sobering yet freeing thought.  These struggles, the crosses, the drama, the decisions over which I agonize?  They'll end and in the big ol' scheme of things, they will pass away.  They do matter, oh yes they do.  It is those decisions and crosses and our state of heart in the way we respond to them that are of huge importance to the state of our souls.  We have the capability of rejecting Him for all eternity with some of these choices.  God is not some sadistic practical joker orchestrating some elaborate plot on us only to reel us in at the end with a big noogie and a "ha!  Got 'ya!"  These things matter.  But they will end.  We will die.  And then the truer reality begins.

Our crosses and struggles seem so big in the moment.  They seem to be everything and sometimes they threaten to swallow us whole.  But if we can step back and with the help of a big ol' helping of grace see them for what they truly are?  We would love them for cleansing our souls and preparing us for heaven.  We would embrace them.  We would thank God for showering us with the mercy of a cross to carry.

One of the things I love about our parish is that we have a cemetery in the backyard.  We Catholics are constantly reminded about death and we think about it a lot.  Or at least we should.  We remember those who have died at every Mass, we talk constantly about the saints in heaven and celebrate those who were martyred in gruesome hideous ways, and at the front of every church we even dare to display a man dead and mangled hanging on a cross.  We are often reminded about our earthly death and rightly so.  In a culture that seeks to glorify the young and live forever, the Church (sometimes appearing to be a cranky old killjoy) bids us gently to see the big picture.  That cemetery in our churchyard is a constant reminder to me that that will, in fact, be me and sooner rather than later.  My name will be on a stone just like that.  That's enough to shake me into making damn sure that my soul is right with Him.  To remind me that the time I have here is precious and valuable and I will have to account for what I did with it.  It's enough (or it should be) to make me pause before making a dumb or selfish decision.  A flimsy lazy Christianity would bid me to take no mind and to do what feels right and make the ultimate snub toward the Lover of our souls and presume upon His mercy.  As long as I don't kill anyone, right?  (For some reason that is the one offense that remains wrong in the lukewarm heart, isn't it?)  God doesn't care about that little thing, right?  Or He loves me know matter what so He will forgive me this thing I am about to do or as long as you have warm fuzzy feelings about Jesus and are His "friend" (whatever that means), you'll be good.  In that we make a mockery of the Blood He spilled and sadden His heart often worse than by the original offense planned.  We are called to be saints, called to a heroic virtue that is completely possible by His grace.  We are called to a total, faithful, fruitful LOVE.  I can make excuses to others or myself but in the end He sees right through it and that is what will matter in the end.  That and His inexhaustible mercy. 

So I'm going to die.  My body will be in a casket and my name on a stone.  There will hopefully be a funeral Mass for me.  (P.S. to my funeral planners:  If you dare have them play On Eagle's Wings or Be Not Afraid I will retract all of this, beg an exemption from God and haunt you forever and ever.  You've been warned.)  The things I fretted over will be long gone.  There will come a day when I will have to answer for my life and I pray that my answer will be sufficient.  Then all of this, the pain, the effort, the crosses, the dying to self, the choice to love even when it hurts...it will all be so worth it.  I want love to be my legacy and I have so very far to go.  I pray when the day arrives that I die, I will be ready.  I pray that I will hear the words that we all long to hear as He pulls that cross off my bloodied weary shoulders, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  That day is coming and soon.  My choice today is what I will make of that.




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5 comments:

  1. Your post couldn't have been written at a better time for me. Thank you

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  2. love this.
    and, i have left strict instructions regarding haunting as a result of 'eagles wings' as well.

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    Replies
    1. Ha! I knew we were friends for a reason.

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  3. Great post, Mary.

    And, yes, that is just normal paranoia . . . I am so glad I am not the only one that fears my car plunging off a bridge!

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  4. Amen to those awful songs. They don't even seem like hymns to me. And the double-dotted quarter notes in Be Not Afraid just drive me bananas. Nobody sings the song right, and it sounds dumb when one does.

    But yes, I agree with you on the rest of it, too.

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