A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last (Job 14.1-2)
Media vita in morte sumus, In the midst of life we are in death (from the Gregorian chant, c. 1300)
A free-verse meditation on what happens when childhood fantasy is met with life’s certainty and what to do about it.
Stanza I: When a child, even before most my age contemplated (or could contemplate) the reality of aging and dying, I, looking around at my elders, noting their time-to-time passing from what I soon (too soon?) beheld as this ephemeral realm of the living to some, to my eyes, invisible, imperceptible place, passing through the clutch of my fevered fingers (I, somehow, imagining that I could hold them close, keep them from going “home” and “over there” the preachers said, but I, confused, resisted, unbelieving; believing that they already were here at home with me), decided, knew that death was the natural destination, the inescapable terminus (no matter how long the ride to arrive) of the course of this life.
Stanza II: Nevertheless, oft I, longing for superheroism’s immortality, hoped that by the time I was old enough to die that they (the ubiquitous “they” whom I, through my childlike eyes, beheld to be in charge of things) would have discovered a cure for dying.
Stanza III: Tho’, now, long I have known that – in my daily notice of the withering of flesh, the shallowness of breath, the lessening acuity of mind – the shroud of death, day by day, casts its consuming shadow over me.
Stanza IV: This realization reminds me that this life is no lasting gift; only a momentary treasure. And that destiny does not always mean a final destination, but rather the daily, moment by moment vocation to share life’s love and the love of life with all.
© 2021 PRA
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