Embedded in life is a cycle of birth, growth, maturity, and death. The cycle repeats itself in the seasons, through the life cycles of plants and animals, and in our own lives. As strong as the evidence all around us the prospect of this cycle when is comes to each individually and personally is at best daunting and at worst numbing and life stopping. Yet it is in accepting and embracing this cycle that we are free to really live.
I don’t think much about the shortness of life. It isn’t that I avoid it; I think that I focus my energies singularly on the moment in which I live. I want to learn lessons from yesterday and release fears about tomorrow so that I can live in the grace of each moment. I find myself confronted with my own reality through the end of another’s life. While I am not paralyzed I am drawn into a period of intense introspection. The process reaffirms the values, priorities, and mission most dear, brings memories of the gifts of mercy and acceptance that the individual has given, and delivers a profound sense of sadness. The sadness is because I rarely get the opportunity to share my reflection with the individual that I am lifting up to God in thanks.
A good friend, very close for a period in my life, who shaped me far more than even I realize, is in her final minutes of life. As I write she may be resting with God, I am not sure. Regardless it is merely a matter of a short time.
I am struck by the intensity of the gifts she gave me, especially the gift of unconditional acceptance. She knew my weaknesses but saw my strengths. She experienced my failings but looked forward to the opportunities to come. She saw my bad side yet with mercy offered me something precious, unconditional friendship.
“Fear not, wild animals! The fields and meadows are greening up. The trees are bearing fruit again: a bumper crop of fig trees and vines!” (Joel 2.22)