The Paschal Mystery: Dying as the Way to the Fullness of Life

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Part of "The Paschal Mystery: Dying as a Way to the Fullness of Life"

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With paschal praise be Christ proclaimed, His love for us unfolds astounds, For by His lifeblood we are free, To live with Him beyond death's bounds. Ours is a paradise undreamed, Whose fruit the tree of life now bears, Ours is by death defeat the gift, Which Christ in us now fully shares. Ours is the manna here consumed, Breathless and broken, shabby and old, Ours is the name we each now bear, Breathe deep within our heart and soul.


Ours is the day-spring dawning bright, Whose light now burns within our heart, Ours is the garment woven white, Yes, ours the very throne of God. Amen. Reflection will be Romans 3, 21-26, Romans 5, 1-11, Romans 7, 14-25, Romans 8, 1-17.


And over to Hebrews, two selections there, chapter 2, verses 5-18, and then chapter 13, verses 20-21. Then Revelation, chapter 1, 9-20, chapter 5, 6-14, chapter 6, 9-17, and chapter 21, verses 1-7. And then 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 1-9, chapter 13, verses 1-13. And 2 Corinthians, 4, all the way through, starting at verse 7 and going through to chapter 5, verse 10. And in the same letter, 2 Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 11-13. And then over to Ephesians 3, verses 9-17, and Galatians 6, verses 14-18, and finally Colossians, chapter 1, verses 15-20.


Pope John XXIII once wrote, Every day is a good day to be born. Any day is a good day to die. To appropriate the Paschal mystery, we must face death daily, as well as birth, and choose to love. This is what we said in our last reflection, all in the light of our final death. But to do this, we must face our fears, and that's what I'm going to concentrate the most, I'd say, on this reflection. The best way to prepare for physical death is to practice dying, to make it a way of life. We can only fully and deeply face our death, we believe this as Christians, in and with Christ, who knows it completely, and has experienced it before I have.


Jesus is the way into my own death and life. To confront death is to look at its frightening mask, we said, deeply enough to see through the mask, and the fear to what lies behind. To learn to die in and with Christ before my final death is to learn fullness of life through selfless loving. There's an ancient proverb which states, take from death before death takes from you. And there is, of course, taking that more deeply, there's this sense of what I've been trying to share with you, that our own physical death contains a secret. And to know that secret before our physical death and live that secret is the best way, is the way into fullness of life right now. As the psalmist says, Lord, make me know the shortness of my life, that I may gain wisdom of heart.


Knowing the shortness of life, because of the certain reality of death, enables us to know the length, breadth, height of God's love, which is ceaselessly poured out. Death as a pouring out of oneself seems intrinsic, we've said, to the life of God as Trinity, and we are made in that image. Lose your life for my sake, Jesus says in the scriptures, and you will find it. Cling to it, and you will lose it. Theologian John Shea writes, the best way to prepare for death is to develop a healthy capacity for surprise. To move from an approach to life that's very controlled, and very planned, and very predictable, and to develop a healthy capacity for surprise. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux once wrote, while we are in the body, let us follow the way of death, seeking the eternal on the wings of love and the oars of charity.


I don't think death is so grievous as the fear of death, which paralyzes us. And somehow the fear of death is about the fear of life, and the fear of loving. The fear of death is a matter of the imagination. Mostly what frightens us about death is what we imagine it to be. Perhaps that's what frightens us about living, and about loving. It's what we imagine is going to cost us. We do not perhaps have anything to fear in death, if in our life we have done nothing to be afraid of. If in our life we have been seeking to love. For the one who loves as dying, their youth will be renewed like an eagle, says Psalm 102.


And Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4, whoever has in themselves the death of Christ, they will also have in their body the life of the Lord Jesus. Let death then work in us, that life also may work the good life after death. And again in Philippians verse 21, Paul writes, for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But I think we keep bumping into fear. The fear of death, fueled by our imagination. Which actually embraces many other fears. There's a story of a father, who when his child reached a certain age, was going to share with his child the secret of his success.


And so he brought the child to his place of business. And he kind of made it a rather momentous occasion, and shrouded the child in the secret of his success. And shrouded it in a certain amount of mystery, so that the child was really kind of anxious and wondering what the secret of dad's success is. In business, in life. And there were high shelves all along the walls and aisles of this business. And so he brought a ladder over, and he had the young child climb to the very top. And then he took the ladder away. The child was sitting up there on the shelf. And he started telling the child, you know, we have a good relationship, don't we? And yes, and I've provided for you. And saying all these kind of positive things, and yes, yes, yes. So finally he said, well, if you feel that way, we have such a good relationship, and you trust me, don't you? And yes, he said, well I want you to jump. Now this was not just the shelf so high, it was quite high. And the child was reluctant, of course, but he kept saying, you know, I can catch you.


Have I ever let you down? I can catch you, trust me. And convincing the child, and finally the child takes the leap of trust. And the father moves aside and lets the child fall. And as the child, obviously hurt and confused, he says, let this be a lesson to you. I've learned in my life never to trust anyone. Trusting is difficult for us. For we all learn too early in life that we can be hurt. Even by those who claim to love us, and whom we love, and who try their best, we're still going to be somehow hurt by them, let down by them, because no one, no parent can love us perfectly. And all it takes is a really good hurt for us to begin making secret little covenants, don't we, with ourselves.


Saying things like, I'll never let that happen to me again. That's the last time I'll open up. That's the last time I'll share anything personal. That's the last time he or she will ever do that to me. I'll never stick my neck out again. These are covenant formulas, they're vows we make to ourselves at very young and tender ages in life. And even though we may be religious people of the covenant, we actually live by these self-made covenants, which are continually renewed by ongoing life experiences. And they're strengthened, they're fueled by our fear. The fear of being hurt runs our lives more than we realize, or we want to admit. Affecting our relationships with others, with creation, with God, even with ourselves.


Indeed, the root cause of all that plagues humanity is the fear of being hurt, and thus the mistrust and the need to defend. Fear and mistrust keeps us as individuals, families, neighborhoods, ethnic groups, nations, in tight, confining, constricting places. It's interesting that even in fear, you watch the body and how it tightens and constricts, and it pulls inward to defend. And this is so much of what we see going on in our world, in our cities, in our family, all over. The dramatic example would be the Middle East, would be Northern Ireland, would be Bosnia. But it's all over. People who are afraid of being hurt. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for Egypt is mitzra'im,


derived from the root word meaning tight place. And this is powerfully depicted in John's gospel account of Jesus' appearance to the disciples. First without Thomas being there, and then with Thomas, which we heard on the second Sunday of Easter. And let me read it to you. John 20, 19-31. On the evening of that first day of the week, even though the disciples had locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood before them. Peace be with you, he said. Now when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his sign. At the sign of the Lord, the disciples rejoiced. Peace be with you, he said again. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.


Then he breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive sins, they are forgiven. If you hold them bound, they are held bound. Now it happened that one of the twelve, Thomas, was absent when Jesus came. The other disciples kept telling him, we've seen the Lord. But his answer was, I will never believe it, without probing the nail prints in his hands, without putting my finger in the nail marks and my hand into his sign. Now a week later, the disciples were once more in the room. And this time, Thomas was with them. And despite the locked doors, Jesus came and stood before them. Peace be with you, he said. Then to Thomas, take your finger and examine my hands.


Put your hand into my side. Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe. Thomas said in response, my Lord and my God. Jesus then said to him, you became a believer because you saw me. Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed. Obviously, the disciples are still in Mizraim, aren't they? They are still in Egypt. They're in a very tight place, enslaved by their own personal and collective covenants of fear. They're in the locked room, that tight place. All John says is that they're in a locked room because they're afraid of the Jews. But what is he getting at? What's the Jews to them?


They're Jews themselves. What is he getting at? Is it not that they fear that what happened to Jesus would likewise happen to them? Did they not fear being hurt as Jesus was hurt? Wounded by betrayal, both by leaders and friends. By calumny, by abandonment, both by leaders, friends, and even feeling at times God had abandoned them. Wounded and hurt by misunderstanding, by false accusations, rejection, by false, I mentioned that, false accusations, injustice, by arrest, imprisonment, judgment, torture, ridicule, shame, public exposure, tremendous physical suffering, and helplessness, and finally death.


Those are a lot of things that can hurt us. Let's be honest here. Do we not fear these very same things? Which go back to our first hurts as a child. And our doubts about being truly loved. And do we not also, like them, fear death? The great and ultimate hurt who inflicts on us a mortal wound beyond which there is no recovery. Are we not most of the time seeking ways to run and hide from death, like our childhood game of hide-and-seek, hoping not to be found? There's a story of a boy who ran up to his father, who was a rabbi, with tears in his eyes, complaining, Daddy, Daddy, we were playing hide-and-seek and I hid so well that nobody found me. And they all lost interest and forgot me.


I was left there all alone. And the rabbi emitted a groan. Tears flooded his eyes. For he then realized the first time how God healed. In this story, the child can be God, as well as ourselves, hiding from hurt and death, and thus finding ourselves safe for a while, but alone, unloved, and unnoticed. Thus we are indeed locked in that room with the disciples out of fear. And like them, for us too, it is Easter Sunday. For every day, every now, we are confronted with the wounded, risen Lord, with the paschal mystery. We must realize that when the risen Jesus


enters that tight place, they continue to fear because with him enters death itself. Its horrible marks are all over him, on his hands and feet and side, on his back and head. Death, you see, knows no locked doors and makes no exceptions. But oddly enough, neither does divine life and love. Thomas' desire to probe the wounds of Jesus, his hurt, his death, is no different from John and Paul, and Peter rather, who run to the tomb and look into it. They are all trying to make sense of this tragic event, Jesus' death, and the end to all their hopes, and also the inevitability of their own deaths. No, both death and life enter that locked room. A wounded, glorified Jesus


confronting them with the paschal mystery, with their own woundedness and death, which Christ has already claimed as his own, but which they continue, and we, to run from. To look and gaze at the crucified, risen Lord is to look into the depths of ourselves, our own humanity, in all its potential, its realized potential. It is to look at our future erupting into our now. But we can only see into our humanity our woundedness and death without fear and mistrust by seeing into Jesus' death and surprisingly finding full life and love and ultimate trust there. There are no covenants of fear in Jesus, just a covenant of love. And it seems to me Easter faith is about this kind of trust.


It's about entrusting ourselves to a truth buried deep in us, which can only be awakened and resurrected by the Word of God. This truth is about the only real covenant there is, which is not our covenant of fear and mistrust, creating divisions within and between ourselves. No, this covenant, this trust is about our unity in God. And that, I think, is precisely why Jesus is our peace and why that's the only word he says to them. A peace that is not just a calm of hostilities between people, but the Word effecting and revealing the once buried truth that God is one, that all rather is one in God, who is the fullness of life and love selflessly poured out. That even death cannot separate or divide this unity.


And therefore all apparent divisions are the result of fear and fear alone. Death does not have the power to divide us. It's the fear of death, of being hurt. Jesus, who is the very personification of this unity, this peace, greets the disciples and their fear and our own, with one word, peace. In fact, it is his very name. Truly, he is our peace. And those places which are tightest within us and between us, where the doors are heavily bolted, are precisely those places where a word is being spoken to us. And that word is peace. It is a paschal peace, being spoken in Bosnia, South Africa, the Middle East,


Northern Ireland, every country, city, neighborhood, family and heart. It is precisely this one word, who is Christ, who is our true nature, our restored and transformed self, which begins to arouse the disciples to Easter faith. There's a story of an old woman who was sitting by a stream. And as she was sitting there, leaning against a tree, right near the stream, she noticed that there was a small creature being pulled by the current and trying to swim towards the banks of the stream. And she noticed it was a scorpion. And it was really struggling. And finally she reached out her hand, creating kind of a human bridge for the scorpion, hopefully, to just crawl on


and then crawl to the shore. But naturally, each time she got near the scorpion, the scorpion felt threatened, was afraid of being hurt, and struck out. And she pulled her hand back and sucked out the poison. And then after a few moments, repeat the same procedure. And again and again. Now, it happened that there were some other townspeople nearby watching this strange sight, thinking, she must be crazy. They finally can't stand it anymore, and they yell, hey, you old lady! Don't you know if you keep doing that, it's going to keep stinging you and biting you, and if you get enough of those, you could die. And the wise old lady just looked up over her shoulder as she's bent over at the stream and said, just because it's the nature of the scorpion to strike out when it is afraid,


why should I forgo my nature, my true nature, which is to rescue, which is to save, which is to trust, which is to love? Our eyes tell us one thing. Protect yourself. Easter faith tells us another. In and with Christ, lay down your life for others. This requires faith seen beyond external signs and evidence. And it's interesting to note that in all the Easter accounts, Easter faith comes from not so much from seeing in faith, though that's what, when we hear the story, we right away focus on that, but in all the stories, seeing alone would not have brought them to faith. It's when they hear Jesus speak. It's hearing. And in many of the accounts,


he's instructing them on the meaning of Scripture. And then they come to see in a new way through this hearing. So faith is a way of seeing based on evidence, based on a hearing. Easter faith comes from hearing a secret word hidden in our very depths, in darkness, and bringing that word, or simply allowing it, rather, to rise to the surface of our consciousness, and thus living that word. This is what Luke in Acts 4 describes happens to a community that does this, when he paints that rather idealistic picture of the Jerusalem community. Easter faith, consciously living the Paschal mystery, makes us into different kinds of people,


living a covenant different from fear and self-centeredness and division and inequality. The unity of heart and mind and prayer and Scripture reflection and shared material goods that we hear in that account, Acts 4, is not something they created. Rather, it is a unity they discovered in the risen Lord, who was a word spoken in the depths of their hearts. And when they listened deeply enough, they heard that word and they discovered their unity. And they started to find practical ways of celebrating and expressing that unity, yet continuing to keep listening to that word of unity. And this is what inspired St. Benedict to found monasteries, places where Easter faith might come alive through a deeply listening life and be expressed through a charity


which embraces all according to each one's need. At every Eucharist, this is what we do. We seek to grow in Easter faith in the Paschal reality of Christ, which is our reality, listening to the Scriptures, being reminded of our true natures, experiencing the risen crucified Lord, speaking to the tight places in us and between us, to discover over and over again this essential unity that we share in Christ with every living thing in the universe. It is only in this way that our fear gradually begins to turn into joy and that in the face of all that life and death can throw at us, we can choose to die, to entrust ourselves in love. Okay. I have a shorter presentation today


because I wanted to have room for questions and comments and responses which we haven't had up to this point. So I'll stop there and let you think for a moment and then see if you had anything in terms of anything we've been reflecting on since Friday night, which was last night, up to this point. Okay. I'm usually the one to talk to, you know. There's a story about the boy himself and his father not touching him and it really bothered me. And it did seem that the child was too short to learn, too soon, that he couldn't trust. It was like, you can't trust people but you can trust God for having made that change. People are not always going to keep their word and you kind of stare at yourself and you think, oh, that means I have to trust God.


But see, I don't think we trust God, either. Trust is learned relationally, even with God. You can say you do, but you usually don't trust God any more than you trust people. Like you're asking for help but you're looking for another way out. Yeah. We would like to think, you know, it's not really trusting the real God. And that idol, the minute that idol doesn't fulfill, we begin to then have, well, God, hey, what do you want? You know, the issues of trust start to come up. And when we get older, we find that we can't. This God that we fashion is not going to protect us from life. And we can try to do all the right things and we think we're going to buy protection and it doesn't happen. And biblical faith is really about trust. It's not so much believing in doctrine.


It's about a relationship and trusting. And it's interconnected with my relationship with myself and trusting myself, trusting others, and life. Because we are taught life can hurt you. We don't trust creation. It can hurt you. So it's a really basic issue. And of course, as I said, I think death is the one we fear the most, you know, because that seems to be the one that we really feel powerless. Well, I would say to the extent a person does not really trust and fully love everyone, they have a fear of death whether they know it or not. Because to love requires dying.


You see, one's physical death is intimately related to the capacity to love, the dying in love. That's why we have problems with loving because we have a fear of the other kind of death. And it's a similar feeling, it's a similar experience of loss of self, pouring out of self. So that's why I've been linking the two. And that's why the freedom for loving in facing your own mortal death is a freedom that one discovers for loving, for living life more fully instead of playing it cautiously and safely in order to live a long life. And that's what mostly we're taught, you know, through life to not take any big risks and you'll live longer. Well, but are you really living? That's when Jesus says there's life and there's life. Is it full life? Is it the life that I'm imparting to you, that I've come to bring? And Jesus may be the example of that, the tragic example of someone who, okay, he lived full life and yet it was cut short.


See what happens? The fear of one's own death is one's own death. There's this fear of the death of someone you love which can constrict your loving and then you know you're going to be hurt. That seems to me to be a different kind of fear than the fear of your own death. Well, I see it as the same, it's just another way that death is getting at you. It's still death you're afraid of. It's just mediated through another. And I think to some extent what we feel about another's death is always to some extent about our own consciously or unconsciously because we're going to follow. So it always mirrors to some extent our own condition,


our own human inevitability of our human condition. Yes, but at the same time it's also losing somebody and that's your heart, it's that you're losing somebody that's very dear, somebody you care for. But that's what death is. Death is the experience of loss. Why? So it's still death, it's still death, I'm saying it's still death you're running away from. It's still the death issue. Whether it comes for you through the result of death or whether it comes for you through a close person's death, it still is hurting you and you're still dealing with the death issue. And you will try to be cautious and not to minimize the risk and the hurt. The death issue is the life issue, is the love issue. That's what I'm saying.


You cannot be strong in one issue, in one reality. That's what I'm suggesting. It sounds like you are complaining with fear of death and speaking to a question I was planning on asking you. A very close friend of mine died last May 19th and he was a Dominican priest and there was a Dominican gathering the next month, chapter meeting, and I met another Dominican who was a theologian who teaches in Germany enough to hear. And we talked a bit and I said, I feel that I shouldn't grieve on account of my faith. And he said, we grieve because of our faith. And I said, what do you mean by that? And he said, well, I'll think about it and I'll discuss it with you next summer. Well, that's next month. Oh, good for you. Well, this retreat will get you thinking some more. Well, I need help. Those are two interrelated


questions here. You know, her grief is essentially fear of death. And I was saying, well, even though you can rejoice in someone going on to God, it's still a missing relationship in your life. Yes, and I'm not saying we shouldn't. I never said that. I'm saying it is all the death issue. In my other talk, when I remember, I said that Jesus first reveals the first death, which is sin death. Then he conquers that with love death. And then the third point I mentioned is the ambiguity of every human person's death and how they approach death. And the ambiguity is what? You see both going on there. Sin death, love death, and the person struggling to trust, to entrust themselves to love in that moment and being tempted


to go the way of sin death, the way of alienation and separation. And the grief is part of that dilemma, that drama of the human situation. But it's still the death issue. So I'm not at all saying we shouldn't grieve. But it is not the perfect situation. That's what I'm saying. That's why in Revelations, the day will come there's no more grieving. And that's already breaking in now. That truth is breaking in now if we believe the Christian Revelation. But it's not fully realized. It's an acknowledgement of the situation. Of the imperfection of the human situation. But as Paul says, if one gives over, gives into the grief, then you're into sin death,


only you don't see the redemptive part of Jesus' crucifixion. Then you're just seeing a horribly painted crucified Jesus, like most of the Jews did, another prophet that was executed. And that's sad and that's it. The Christians saw that in part, but they saw something much more. They saw a man who freely, as the New Testament says, embraced death out of love. And you see both in the moment of his death. And that's the love death. And we say, by dying, we destroy our death. And that process is going on now. And the destruction of grief is going on now. And the elimination of fear, that is a process that's going on now. To put it another way, the kingdom is here, yet. Not yet, we're caught in that in between, but we've got to remember the dynamic,


the process is taking place. I'm sorry, I know you had... What you said about the diminishing of... I always come down to people that are discouraged. I don't like that very much. I read an interview with Elaine Hayles, who is a writer who's written a number of books in the last 20 years and now she's at Princeton. She was the only woman, I think, to work on the Nag Hammadi manuscripts, the Gnostic manuscripts that were found in the desert about 30 years ago. She made an interview with Bill Moyers on one of his shows with the transcripts of the library. And they say a number of stupid things like, I'm not interested in theology, and Bill Moyers is neither am I. And they're doing theology interviews on their own interview. And she had lost her husband and her seven-year-old son in a year of each other at the point of doing this interview and she had just been able to come into her own and she's still


teaching at Princeton, I think. And she was only 41 or 42 years old and she said, this is making me realize that a whole different approach to death that I'm not sure Christianity approaches death as a result of original sin, whatever that might be, the fall. We're very iffy on exactly what those occurrences are at this point. Maybe death is not a punishment. Maybe death is a natural process of our lives. Maybe it's something we have to go through. And that sort of goes against you know, you can talk to your, you can close your next month about this and see what you think because that certainly about faces everything you teach theologically within the church as far as the dogma is concerned. And when we were talking about wilderness and wildness, I thought of a


wonderful book by Max Pritch, Man in the Holstein, about an old man in the Alpines who has this stroke while there's a landslide going on and he's facing death alone. And there's a comment in there that there is no such death as a natural disaster. There's only nature doing what nature is supposed to do. So, perhaps when I read that quote by Eileen Pagels I thought to myself that certainly is something to consider. What would happen if we consider the fact that death is a natural part of life. It's not punishment. It's something that we have to deal with and we have to go through. And that makes the whole concept of taking up your cross or whatever sort of pain to go through on a daily basis no matter how small or large they are a completely different idea. We're not being punished by God since this is part of being a human being


and part of our life. The Eastern Church certainly takes that sort of thing into account. So that through the fall after the Syrian talks about through the fall after he becomes into his own we'll be even greater than Adam and Eve in the garden. So, if we consider that death I think that the reason people are afraid of death is because it's punishment and maybe it's not. It's a knock it's a knock beating why is there something why not nothing? What is on the other side if it isn't another side? Like you say, when you face that sort of question even though you


can't know what's on the . Even if don't is going on. We struggle with meaning, the meaning of life in that reality. And so, what we were presenting, what I've been presenting, is the Christian response to that, the Christian point of view, and that Jesus is the clarification of the meaning of birth and death. What do you think of Socrates' death as a strong person, not meaningful, and not terrible? A strong person going to death. You mentioned Socrates a little last time. I mentioned Buckley's article, where he contrasts Jesus' death with Socrates. Well, he does that as a way of emphasizing the Christian point of view, and that is, Jesus leads us


through death, not around it, not telling us it's just illusion and not to fear, but leading us right into it and through it, is the Christian approach. The Buddhist approach would be, it's all illusion, and there's an endless cycle of birth and death, and that's what you were saying before, is more on the Buddhists, as I understand the Buddhists, and that is, that's just the way it is. It's not a punishment, and it's not leading to anything necessarily, it's just this endless cycle, that's the way things are. And if you can just accept that and adjust to that, maybe you'll relax and live a bit more of a peaceful life and find your meaning, build your meaning within that reality of helping people. In Aikido and Buddhism, the sense of compassion is to help people, to liberate them from that anguish, and the liberation of that is also part of Christianity, but it's a different approach. Question from audience, I have no idea about anybody's salvation, and I would never presume...


I think what he was saying, and why he brought it up, is it's quite a different image, and yet it probably is more appealing to us. We like to think somebody's strong in death, and what I was saying is that's not the Christian, and what the image Jesus presents is weakness, and that's the path for us, is to be weak, as God is weak, in the sense of love death. He conquers sin death by freely embracing death, sin death, unmasking it with love, selflessness, and robs it of it's power, it harrows hell. Question from audience, which attitude? Question from audience, well, I wouldn't put the label mortal sin, I think it would be


Yeah, that label just causes many things to flash off, I suppose, in all of us. I would just say, that's the fundamental call, that's what we see in Jesus, is this radical openness at the most radical moment in a person's life, and that is when their whole existence seems to cease to be, and there's fifth of all their defenses, and you know, you're completely exposed at that moment, and to choose to entrust yourself farther into your hands is a tremendous leap of faith and trust. Question from audience, that's what God wants, that's what God has planned, and it's going to happen. Question from audience, one of the rare occasions that there is death is, a lot of older people, and people in hospice will say, they don't fear death, they fear dying, and they fear most dying in pain or alone, but in a way that also is a lack of trust, because it's


a desire to control the way, the phenomenon of death and so on, and I think that if one is completely trusting, one will assume that their friends can help with the pain, there will be love and support and so on, but I have older friends who say that repeatedly. And one, the natural thing, I've always taken a lot of, I mean it helps me to know that naturally, we begin dying the day we're born, because our cells are always dying, the cells we have now are completely different than those of seven years ago, so that feels natural and almost like breathing and all. I think the science and modern physics can help a lot with looking at some of those,


and also meditation practices where you're always letting go, letting go, letting go, so that death might come to seem a last great letting go. Yeah, and as I've been saying, the paschal pattern, that imprint is on everything, all our experiences, everything, is the paschal mystery. And you want greater life, you must die. You want birth, you must die. Yes, yes, it's an endless process. And as I mentioned, in Trinitarian terms, we could talk about God as this endless, simultaneous process of self-emptying and self-filling, and that's sort of the pattern. Your name, please? I just want to say, I think death got a different meaning from me when my dad died.


And it was a little similar to the story of what you said, when your dad died and your dad chose to have her to be present. It wasn't exactly like that, but the point I want to make is when you experience a loved one dying, and you also experience the breaking in of the light, somehow, into that situation, like for you it was your dad chose that moment. And for me it was, you know, my dad was unconscious, and I was holding his hand, and I was singing, Do Not Afraid. And all of a sudden it was like the Spirit breaking in, telling me to tell him, Dad, when your hand leaves mine, the hand of Jesus will take you. And I was so strong that God was so present, and that he was finally going to release, that I walked out of the room, and I walked back in, and stood before his bed, and I said,


Dad, I know I won't be alive until noon tomorrow morning. I love you, good night. And so when that experience of the love of God breaks through, to give me, and I felt so privileged to be there, to give one that, I don't know how to explain it, but just that breaking through of the mystery of the love, it just totally, for days, changed my perspective. But can I ask you a question, because I have a similar story, where my husband died, and I've been more perfectly chosen by him, and it also released me from any fear of my own death. And I, again, had a strong presence, and I will tell the story that it's led to. Yet, can I ask you, have you not felt any grief since?


Is it really contradictory to have that feeling that the death chosen, not a sin death, a death expected, is yet an absence of grief? No, that's a different stage of grief, you're talking about a different stage of grief now. There's the grief at the death, at the dying moment, you know, and then there's the months and years afterward. Yeah, I felt, yeah, I felt no grief at the dying moment. It was really, all of a sudden I was there, and when we finally passed over, you know, the virus just a little bit, break out, and yeah, I kissed you. They called up a friend, and they had a wave, and so, and I was going to completely use a term, I explained it to him, and he said, oh yes, it was virus caused by the death. You can see that, you know, widows graciously overseeing funeral,


they're so buzzed by the death, and the period of grieving doesn't take over until later, the absence of the presence of grief. Well, that's now another thing you're talking about. If it's a delayed grief, that's another, but I think, aside from delayed grief, if somebody was fully grieving throughout the whole thing, there's also changes and differences in the grieving process later on. I think that the ones that are grieving have a lightened perspective. Yeah, like many people who grieve a lot during the whole process, they're surprised that there's still grief going on. Well, I let it all out. No, you're at different stages of grief, you know, and usually it's the absence, that stage of kind of grief, and they need to really listen to what that is saying to them. And usually part of it is a certain association of presence with physical, and that's changed, and they have to discover that person present with them in a different way,


and they're still clinging to the physical. And at times that can be so powerful and pronounced that they will ache to see the beloved, to be touched by the beloved. You listen to them, and what they're saying is their physical form. But then if you ask, what did you love most about that person? Was it the physical form? No, it's what gave life to it, and what made it unique. It's the light that came through the form and shone through the form, and that's now completely free. Because form also limits. It gives specificity and uniqueness, but it also provides some limitation, too. And so for me, that's how I've worked through it and tried to help my mom, because for her that's going to be a big issue, because marriage, conjugal love, a big part of that is the physical presence to one another. I left home and would come home every once a year for a couple of weeks, so I was already learning to have relationships with my dad


that didn't rely strongly on the physical. So naturally it wasn't as difficult for me, and I thought it was perfectly normal what my mom was going through, because that was so intimate. And even through his illness and that, the physical was what was thrown at her so much, because of the limitations of his physical and the weakness. But yet, if you just point out, well, what did you love the most? And then you say, well, death hasn't touched that, that's still with you. And that's a journey she has to make to discover how he is still very much with her, and which she is making. And in some sense, something has continued, and something has changed, because she has always loved this inner thing. She knows that in reality. She doesn't have to wed it to that kind of physical body there. And it's still embodied. It's a different sense of body anyway. There's body in this body. There's the outer body and the inner body. The inner body is released in death.


It isn't the outer body. We tend to take body in too completely an external sense. I think embodiment has an inner and an outer dimension. There's an inner shape to us, and there's an outer shape to us. That's why you can cut a limb off, but there's still embodiment. You can cut both limbs off. And I'm still an embodied... I'm not less embodied. The outer physical is less. But I'm a fully embodied person. And this is one of the things you try to help people who do lose limbs, because if they've made that association, they have to discover their full embodiment as a person. But the fleshly part has been there. Everything in the world shows us that we can't trust. How do we want to trust? You've got to jump off a shelf every day.


That's right. You've got to skydive every day. You've got to skydive every day. And that's not good. Well, right. And again, I'm speaking from a Christian perspective. We believe there is a grace there. The grace to follow? Yes, the grace to take the leap. The grace to take the leap. To trust. And it's our own deepest desire to trust. It's our true nature. Well, I think you've learned, haven't you learned, also in life, and maybe in small degrees, that I'm sure you've had lessons where you've learned that to risk and have been hurt was worth it. Right. Because what? You experienced something else. If that's the case, yes. Well, yeah. You risk, you trusted.


And even though you got hurt, you don't regret it, because something happened. Something passed through that archway when you opened the door. We do it in small little amounts, you know. We tend to calculate. And I think as we grow old, generally, for most people, if they're healthy, moving, they open themselves more. They become more vulnerable, because they realize that it's worth it. Than being safe and alone. Being isolated and alone. If that's a meaningless life. But you're safe. You're Howard Hughes. You're safe from all the germs of life. But you're alone. You're extremely inhuman. You know, this trying to be antiseptic. You know, life is full of germs. And you try to keep away from them. And that's sin death. And it's worse, you know. That's a premature death. You're really a walking zombie.


I want to take Christiana. I think my response to your question is not as repeated. I mean, yes, it's worth it. And of course it's worth it, because you begin to experience the fact that you will survive.