What if we gave “death” another name? Many spend their entire lives trying to avoid any kind of death i.e. anything negative, uncomfortable, difficult, unfamiliar, dangerous, or demanding [Richard Rohr, OFM]. And yet, we know instinctively that we can’t actually run away from life’s negative realities indefinitely.
For centuries various traditions have given us parallel words/experiences that invite us to shift our response to the death-realty in our lives. Rohr reminds us that in male rites of initiation the young boy must face death directly. Sometimes he had to dig his grave and sleep in it for a night. Those who created this difficult rite, perhaps had themselves discovered their latent capacity to bravely walk through frightening choices.
I find myself asking, “How bravely can I take in, walk through and be formed by my “death experiences?” Do my daily “small deaths” ever move me to create alternate life-giving paths? For St. Francis facing the unfamiliar was an expression of “poverty”, the poor side of everything [Rohr]. Can it happen that if I choose to face the poor side within me, I can glimpse unexpected inner riches? Apparently Francis’ ability to boldly look at the poor side of things, led him to abolish fear of failure and experience immense joy. I know I would welcome the result. The question I’m left with is, am I willing to hang out with that poor side of myself long enough to receive the resulting prizes?
Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB