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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring + Death


"When we so fear the dark that we demand light around the clock, there can be only one result: artificial light that is glaring and graceless and, beyond its borders, a darkness that grows even more terrifying as we try to hold it off. Split off from each other, neither darkness nor light is fit for human habitation, But if we allow the paradox of darkness and light to be, the two will conspire to bring wholeness and health every living thing." - Parker Palmer

The USATODAY recently highlighted an AMA study that found that patients with religious commitments were "three times more likely than others to receive intensive, invasive medical procedures, even down to their last week of life." The article continues pointing out that many of these religiously faithful are hanging on to the stories of biblical miracles believing that their death is avoidable and that its an opportunity for God's power to be seen. While I do not disregard the "power of positive thinking" or the unexplainable medical miracles that happen daily, we must know that such cases are rare.

Most often prolonged death and medical heroics lead to intensified suffering. The researcher concludes by saying, "Needlessly prolonging dying isn't a positive thing. I would think someone with a mature faith would be more at peace, more able to accept death."

That hits the nail on the head doesn't it? Why is that Christians (forgive me for changing the language from religious to Christians. It may be true of all faiths or religions but I can only speak to my experience) are so afraid of death?

Does this make any sense to you? Why would Christians, be more fearful of death than those without a faith?

To me, it runs counter to the life and message of Jesus. The life of Jesus shows us that death is the only way that we can know life. That in order to know joy we must know sorrow. That for there to be resurrection there must be burial. So why run from death?

While this study is certainly speaking about physical death, I do not believe it is a leap to say that this is true of other "deaths". Be it spiritual, relational, intrapersonal, ideological, etc. We hang onto dreams that need to die. We wish that our relationships could look like they once were. We hold onto theologies and political positions that no longer make sense. We ignore our life's tragedies and intend on living life like they never happened.

There is death in your life. Or perhaps better stated, there is death in your life that you need to acknowledge. If you don't think so, you are lying to yourself, and you are tired from all of the life saving heroics.

You might be wondering why Jarrod woke up so cranky. But I do not see this as dark and depressing, but life giving. Chances are that we have are so exhausted from avoiding death that to name them, to mourn them, will have a profound impact for our future. In order to receive hope for the future we must name our deaths.

Spring is here, and the blooming of Spring is only found after the death of winter.

The time has come for things to bloom. For new relationships. New dreams. New intuitions that turn into realities. New levels of intimacy and community. New careers. New adventures. New beginnings. Do you believe it? If so, allow for the reality of winter, or death, to be the fuel for this newness.

"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains but a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest." - Jesus

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