(Note: A poetic meditation occasioned by my pondering anew of life-in-this-world’s inexorable end and Christianity’s resurrection-promise)
There is an innocence
of the life of the living:
Many the living,
oft willst not,
equally darest not
contemplate being not.
Yet this same life this truth
(in moistened eyes, loved ones mourning,
in cemeteries and columbaria, remains bearing,
aye, too, in the whispered lips of the aged ailing
longing for the release of holy rest
from incarcerating, waning flesh):
In the midst of life we are in death.
Deeply, dearly mindful of this reality
spake the Apostle Paul
of the Corinthian Christian community
(and to us):
“If our earthly tent inhabiting
is destroyed, we, God assuring,
have a heavenly dwelling.
Thus, by faith, not yet seeing,
in this world groaning,
we live longing
to be adorned with clothing
(1) In the midst of life we are in death (a translation of the Latin, Media vita in morte sumus; the first line of a Gregorian chant), The Book of Common Prayer, Burial of the Dead: Rite Two, page 492
(2) “If our earthly tent…clothing everlasting”: 2 Corinthians 5.1-2, 4a, 5, 7 (my paraphrase)
7 thoughts on “The Truth of Life and of Faith”
So Paul, this post hit me pretty hard. I stopped cold on the sentence “in the middle of life we are in death”. Mourning is hard, long and painful and as of late I’ve felt like I was in death. I had no joy at Easter. The good news for me though is that my faith keeps me upright. It allows me to look forward to tomorrow regardless of whether I’ll be clothed or not.
Mourning is hard, Loretta. I’ve come to believe that our grieving takes a variety of turns…it evolves, but it remains. I’ve also come to believe that ongoing grief is a mark of the depth of the love we’ve had and continue to have for our loved ones who have died.
On an epistemological note, one of the ideas I want to explore further is couched in the opening words: “There is an innocence of the life of the living…(that we)…canst not…contemplate being not.” What occurs to me, always speaking only for myself, is that in my current state of being alive (having life) in this world, truly, I cannot…I am not able to conceive of being not, that is, being dead. Or can I? I don’t know. This line of exploration increasingly matters to me in my daily, at times, moment by moment realization that as I continue to live and breathe my dying day, inexorably, draws closer. I don’t mean to be morbid. Nor do I believe I am morbid. Rather, I consider myself realistic…
An immediate thought occurs as I have written what I just wrote. That is, I pray that I become not so consumed with the contemplation of death that I overlook the wonder and joy of the current, present passing moments.
A final words, for now. I pray your faith ever strengthens and upholds you.
You are very realistic Paul and I don’t think you are morbid at all. I do think I can picture myself dead. I’d be thinking what an amazing life I had!!
Love you back!
An amazing life? Yes, you have had and do have an amazing life.
Now, as for picturing myself dead, I think what I’m getting at here is that I don’t have difficultly believing, knowing that one day I will die. Where I wrestle, both intellectually and existentially, is being in the state of death. In truth, I think, I can’t be, for as long as I have life, well, I have life…
Having said this, I’m not sure why this notion (of seeking to imagine my non- or unbeing) stirs my imagination and my consternation. But it does.
Thanks for continuing and spurring our conversation
Thank you for those footnotes. As I am not very religious, I can appreciate a good faith piece with these little tidbits that give me contextual help. Amazing piece, really haunting, the idea of being in death as we live.
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Thank you, Elle, for your encouragement. As a theolog, I tend to add footnotes as we all do not (and never can) have the same orientation or interest.
As an additional word, one of the reasons I am happy to follow you and your blog is that I appreciate your gritty honesty about the joys and the trials of life. You, for me, write with a clear-eyed integrity. I thank you for your writing and for you.
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You are so sweet, Paul! Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate the support 🙂