Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's a messy gift

Last night, I dreamed that I was being (potentially) killed. The entire population of the planet was being raptured (or kind of vacuumed) up into the sky, and these three guys were going to bring us into another dimension. I figured they were lying, but I played off my fear in pretending that I was excited. Oh great yeah sounds like fun--you'll just stick this syringe with strange fluid into our veins? awesome. So I knew I was going to die--or I hedged my bets and figured there was a greater chance of that than being sent to another dimension.

Dreams that I am going to die, I realized, used to stress me out (understandably). But, as I readied myself to die last night, I started to pray words that I wasn't consciously calling to mind, but felt appear on my dreaming lips like muscle memory.

How nice, I thought when I woke up, that I have dreamed how to die enough that perhaps I have begun to train my body and spirit to die well.

I tried to remember what Rahner says about dying well:

“When a [hu]man dies patiently and humbly, when death itself is seen and accepted, when it not merely “happens” in the course of striving for something else, […] when death is loved for its own sake, and explicitly, it cannot but be a good death. Whenever it is faced in a spirit of pure and free submission to the absolute decree, it is a good death.”

It occurred to me that it's not just dreams, but actually the activity of daily life which is a practicum of dying well. I thought of all the many ways in which living means dying to your own vision for how the course of a day, a conversation, a meeting, or a relationship will go.

Perhaps those small moments of letting go, those small moments of surrendering to the freedom not of ourselves, but of God, are practice for that final surrender, the “infinite fall into the liberty of God.”

I thought of this throughout the course of a hectic and stressful day. It was a day that was framed by beauty: by fog and grey sunshine in the cool autumn morning, and angry sunset in the evening, the whole day covered up in cold, bright sun. I took a breath for a moment in my dark, quiet room, lit only by the fire of the sun falling beneath the lakes. 

In a moment where I mostly just wanted to curl up on my couch and hide from all the responsibilities that I had been reminded of that day, I was called to die to myself in celebrating with friends, in accepting their overwhelmingly generous love and care. That evening, on the way back from the restaurant, I was called to die to myself when M. Flambeau (that's a car) ran out of gas. I had to die to myself in getting over my frustration, in letting my hot anger evaporate, in accepting the day as it had been given, knowing that it was a more precious gift than I could possibly deserve, understanding that my desire to control it would only ruin my enjoyment of it. That all of this was sheer gift, and the only appropriate action: gratitude.

Which is why I want to learn to die well. Because by learning how to die each day, I might just learn how to see each one for what it is: an infinite, precious gift, that I am eternally grateful to simply open my hands to receive.

No comments:

Post a Comment