Lent is a season to reflect on the reality of our mortality. In fact, that is this week’s focus word in our series “This Here Flesh” – Mortality. We are not God, and remembering that fact is a good habit to be in. God is eternal; we are not.
And reflecting on mortality doesn’t have to be grim and morbid. Death is natural. It is something each and every one of us will experience. No one gets out of this life alive. We need not be averse to thinking and talking about the end of our earthly lives. It is healthy to do so.
I remember the first time I realized that I was one day going to die. I don’t know exactly how old I was, but I remember being so, so sad. I didn’t want to die! I liked being alive and wanted to keep doing so. My mom handled it well, like she always did. She assured me that it wasn’t anything to be afraid of, that it was something everyone would face, and that I wouldn’t have to face it for a long, long time.
Cole Arthur Riley writes, “It was when I became acutely aware of my own impermanence, that I began to understand my place in the world – I realized that in many ways my fate is no different than the tree or the star or my neighbor.” Our mortality connects us to one another, and to all of God’s creation, in a deep and profound way.
One of the Scriptures I have read dozens of times at the side of a new grave is the beginning of Psalm 121. “I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” It is beautiful and poignant. Often we are outside and are actually able to lift up our eyes to the hills of the cemetery surrounding us in the moment. The Holy Spirit is often very thick in the moment, and those gathered at the grave of the loved one are reminded of a simple, elegant truth – we are not alone.
This week, week two of the season of Lent, we will reflect together on our mortality. And I know it will be a beautiful, meaningful time. I’ll see you in church.