Every time we choose to die we also choose life
During the last few weeks I’ve been watching summer slowly give way to autumn. Now as I walk crunchy leaves gather underfoot as they fall one by one around me. The bright hues of summer have given way to natural, muted tones, even the sunrises are holding back their brilliance to be replaced by softer colours. Everything appears as diminished and dying. I watch as nature surrenders herself effortlessly to this season of death. For her though, this autumn death is far from harrowing. Nature yields to a new beauty that is revealed in the dying, it is somehow softer and inviting. As I walk through this dying season I find something within me wanting to yield to the same within myself.
We’re mostly scared of the word death, we avoid it and resist it, it’s unfamiliarity scares us and so we see it through a negative lens. I read once that we tend to live as if our physical deaths are never actually going to happen. I wonder how many find themselves nearing death in shock and fear as they didn’t allow themselves to accept its arrival ahead of time? No amount of avoiding or resisting will change the reality of death that comes to us all. The more we choose to “die before we die” the more we soften towards a gradual acceptance of the inevitable without fear.
I find the falling leaves and brown colours are inviting me to die and I’ve been asking what am I being invited to let go of. What needs to die within me? What no longer brings life? What have I been holding onto that invites my grasp to loosen? What space will these deaths create within me for the resurrection that will come in its place.
Death, in any form, creates space. Letting go of a job that no longer fits, a relationship ending, choosing to say no in order to have more time in the day, all these come as small or big deaths. In letting go we are joining autumn as she sheds her leaves to the floor allowing herself to become bare and vulnerable. When we choose the unfamiliar path and let things die it does feel scary, it invites a deeper trust, a deeper surrender, a willingness to find ourselves in a spacious place that has not yet been filled with the resurrection that is sure to follow. Yet, every time we choose to die we also choose life. Jesus was clear that death has lost its sting, his death led to a greater life, he showed us the way, he taught us how to die…
“take up your cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it”. (Luke 9: 24 – 25).
As nature yields to death, so she makes space for the new life that will surely follow. The more we are willing to walk through death whilst we are alive, the more life we will find. By learning to die before we die when it comes to being near our last breath we are already prepared, accepting and welcoming of the eternal life to come. We may need a little courage, we may need a little help as we stay present to the vulnerability that choosing to die offers but God is always present with grace. This autumn I invite you to die, to let go and to make space for the new life that will come… in time.
Here’s a reminder of the questions above and a few more…
What needs to die within me?
What no longer brings life?
What have I been holding onto that invites my grasp to loosen?
What space will these deaths create within me for the resurrection that will come in its place?
Where am I being invited to trust as I wait patiently for new life?