Thursday, February 10, 2005

the day after ash wednesday

We rehearsed. We sang in the service. We rehearsed.

I was pretty tired at the beginning. Still, there is something admirable about stopping and reflecting on one's mortality, which is what we do liturgically on Ash Wednesday as the priest marks ashes on our forehead as they remark that we come from ashes and someday we will return to ashes. This was even more emphatic last night when it was announced that a parishoner had died earlier in the day unexpectedly during surgery.

The fellow was in his early 40s, and someone commented on how hard it was to hear of folk in their early 40s dying unexpectantly.

It slipped out. "Get used to it," I said, not to be mean, but to point out that there is a certain point in your life when everyday becomes Ash Wednesday -- that is, where we recognize that life has an end, and I suppose we prepare for it through living on in hope and joy and with the reality that our life here does not go on forever. I don't think that this morbidity, just a practical recognition about living. E.M. Forster once wrote that a wise man has one foot in the grave and one foot firmly planted in life.

3 comments:

Suzette said...

I'm a nurse who works with end-stage kidney diesease patients and my entire interaction with these people is a journey to their end. A week after a teen driving tragedy that took 3 young lives, my nieghbor was still talking with amazement about daily life without them in the community. It was then that I realized the basic difference between us: she got up evey morning expecting that everyone she knows will still be alive and I get up in the morning expecting that someone I know will have died.

Don said...

Someone wrote recently that it does not get easier to deal with death, and I have to agree. We can't fast forward through grieving.

But there is an age (or sometimes the role one plays) where one must realize that life on this earth is finite.

Glory said...

This blog is brimming with great writing. Thank you! I have a post about Ash Wednesday from a non-Episcopalian point of view; you might especially be interested in my Episcopalian brother's comments. And in his blog: http://burntends.blogspot.com. Your writing is a gift.