catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 20 :: 2011.11.11 — 2011.11.24


Learning to die

Every day it gets closer: my imminent demise. You may think that a morbid statement, but the signs are abundant and autumn is a stark reminder.

Daylight hours fade, summer processes reverse and leaves show their true colors before falling to their winter death. Wrinkles appear where skin was smooth. Joints that once moved smoothly and effortlessly creak and ache. Hearing is not as keen, nor is sight. I can’t run as fast or jump as high.  

Our efforts to prolong the inevitable are numerous: diets, exercise, pills, smart eating. Yet we die. Those in top physical shape die by the thousands daily, just as those in poor health. Age quickly removes the invincibility of adolescence.

A healthier approach is to embrace the inevitable rather than attempt to escape it. Seneca said, “Throughout the whole of life, one must continue to learn how to live, and what will amaze you even more, throughout life one must learn to die.” And the apostle Paul wrote, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Death removes the limitations life places on us. All of the things we cringe over in life will be rectified after our final breath. Autumn must come.

I look forward to experiencing life as God originally intended, but realize I can’t without passing through the experience we try diligently to avoid. The vision I see now is a poor reflection, but death will make it crystal clear. What I wish I knew now, I will know then.

Realizing my mortality actually helps accomplish now what I strive toward, but often fail to achieve: to live selflessly. If I attempt to save my life, I will lose it, but if I lose it I will find it (Matthew 16:25).  All I possess will deteriorate or pass to someone else when I’m gone, and so I learn to hold things loosely and share them at every opportunity, knowing my time to bless others is as brief as the opportunity to enjoy fall colors.

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