We’ve created a mystery to death. Yes, we fear the rising instances of mass shootings and violence in minority communities. We are anxious regarding terrorism and religious persecutions. But we remain intrigued, obsessing over death but we shy away from reflecting on our mortality. When terminal death comes we act like it is somehow abnormal.
Again referring to Rolheiser, humans need to live out a “process of transformation, of dying and letting go so as to receive new life and new spirit.” There are multiple images and stories in the Bible pointing to this transformation. Rolheiser offers a “paschal cycle” for our life journey based on Jesus’ own experience:
- Good Friday…”the loss of life-real death”
- Easter Sunday… “the reception of new life”
- Forty Days… “a time for readjustment to the new and for grieving the old”
- Ascension… “letting go of the old and letting it bless you, the refusal to cling”
- Pentecost… “the reception of new spirit for the new life that one is already living”
I see it again and again as part of my life’s work. As my wife and I talk about her upcoming surgery, her “fourth quarter” in her treatment for colon cancer, we have had to talk about those things which need to die, or better said, HAVE to die. While it is helpful to name events, or hopes or dreams, we still must put these “things” in the grave. I need a “Good Friday” where I bury these and I need Good Friday where death is swallowed in victory. We all do.