There’s only one way to live life and that is deeper. Not like somber, but richer, more richly engaged with what’s going on. That’s the path way of Robert Frost and the creek of Annie Dillard and the pond of Henry David Thoreau. It’s the observing of Sherlock Holmes. It’s the prayer life of Jesus… seems like that to me at least. It’s when you really can’t clarify where the simple experience anyone might have and the artistry of participation begins. It’s what God does constantly and the invitation that extended to any of us daily or even in any moment. It’s turning on the right side of the brain and becoming a part of and standing back from what’s before us.
Is there some part of life where we shouldn’t do this?
We leave tomorrow to be a part of my mother’s funeral. We’ll go to the same little church where my parents expressed their reverence and love in their last years. It’s this white, congregational, boxed pews, stiff little place that always held a community of warm welcome and lively love of people and God.
The service is planned as an expression of family – cousins, in-laws, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren have each honed moments that will be shared. Songs, instrumental pieces, poems, eulogies, Scriptures, hymns and prayers will each be raised to celebrate the deeper aspects of life and a life.
My accumulated fears all raise themselves in these moments, like rocks pushing up through the soil. Doing well, knowing what, accepting easily, participating calmly, disregarding appropriately, forgiving consistently… they’re all present and more, as if I am required to clamor over them to actually be there. But the truth is that no climbing, awkward or otherwise, is necessary. I can simply walk in and admit they are present and that admission is all that’s involved in moving past or over them. Confession is good for the soul because it is simply saying but also living what’s true.
It’s different from saying it to make it so, to move myself into a place I want to go or be. It’s admitting that I have all the limitations I do and not worrying that they are there. I’m not grabbing hold of the limitations. I’m just not acting like they have any more power than they actually do. They heighten anxiety but do not produce reality. That’s what demons and fears share in common. They produce a darkness that appears daunting but cannot withstand the merest glimmer of light.
And so we go to get face to face with death.
We admit it is there, but have no obligation to bow. It carries no relevant power.