“If we are honest, we acknowledge that we are dying throughout our life, and this is what we learn if we are attentive: grace is found at the depths and in the death of everything.” Richard Rohr
I have read and pondered this quote from theologian Richard Rohr countless times since I first encountered it. Honestly, when I first read it I found this idea quite depressing. Yet as I began to reflect more deeply on my own experience, I believe good brother Rohr is correct.
My first experience with death was in my early teens with the sudden passing of my father. It was unquestionably one the most life shaping moments of my life. For the first time I became cognizant of death. And, the accompanying emotional impact that often comes with death.
I also have come to understand that this initial encounter with death was a significant seed planting experience for me in that death is a part of the life’s journey. This learning quickly took deep roots as an inordinate amount of friends tragically died before I reached my 18th birthday. It became acutely clear that there is a rhythm to life, and death is very much a part of that rhythm.
That early life lesson has shaped both my faith and how I navigate the world. Death is the end of one experience and at the same time the beginning of the next. It is interwoven into all aspects of our lives. Death is not just physical but also happens in relationships, in organizations and in communities. Death, often understandably and appropriately, evokes a sense of loss. Yet embraced in the larger rhythm of life, embedded in our deaths is always an invitation to something new.
“Who we are is held in the love of God from before time; and as we lean into that now in life and taste it, we’ll be prepared to really see death as the fullness of being and not as the lessening of it.” —Cynthia Bourgeault
Blessed All Hollows’ Eve, All Souls’ Day, Día de Los Muertos!