Coming Back from the Dead

It’s the day after Easter, The start of Spring and the strong metaphor of rising from the dead is everywhere. The cycle of being born and born again is shown to us in nature and exists within me. If I am not attached to the me of today, dying and becoming a new me tomorrow is no big deal.   

Life arising from death is a given.  After the death or dormancy of our many and varied plants in winter they once again spring to life.  I believe observing this is one way to ease our way around our own many, small deaths throughout our life right up until our final, physical death.

I am reminded of another metaphor; I stood on the dome of Mount Saint Helens, Washington’s most famous and destructive volcano, just days before it blew. I could smell the sulfur and feel the mountain shifting under me as it prepared itself for the explosive death to follow.  Two days later I went back and saw nothing but volcanic dust and a once great forest leveled like a child’s domino set.  A decade later I went again and found a new forest growing in its place, risen from the dead and nourished by it.  That growth started with a few burrowing animals who survived the great blast moving a few plants, who also survived, from one place to another.  Whether by random luck or a watchful universe life grew from death.

Like that mountain we die and sometimes all that we count on dies as well and we are left with no choice but to rise again. Knowing this, seeing nature’s compassionate metaphor might ease our way through these times when parts of ourselves and our lives die away.  We might be reminded of Spring, we might consider that Jesus is quoted often as saying all that he did we can also do.  Yet somehow when we are faced with an ending, this is hard to remember through either our grief or excitement.

When I forget I go back to the question of why.  Sometimes I think it may be ego.  Not pride but the essential element of who I think I am.  However I define myself as “self” I tend to cling to and fear letting go.  Letting go of the self or the ego is most certainly a death. Dying voluntarily and with complete acceptance is the stuff of the greats like Jesus and the saints or like all of nature.  You can watch this ego-less death play out by observing those who understand their place on this planet as temporary yet infinite.  They are here and gone, here and gone.

I once held a bird as she died after being struck by a car.  She was a small burrowing owl and I stopped to help her.  She lay in the street stunned and then without a single sound or sense of fear she tucked her head and slipped away.  I took her to a nearby hillside and placed her there.  I cried for her.  She did not cry for herself, I think, because she understood.  She was here for awhile, then gone.  Whether her spirit comes back I cannot say. Whether my spirit will come back one day, I cannot say.  What I can say is that everything in my life, in our lives, teaches us acceptance of this fact.

Just as surely as you sit here today reading this as one person with one kind of life a day will come when you will be a different kind of person living a different kind of life; your old life will die.  Change is certain.  Acceptance is not.

So as I ponder this time of renewal looking down the barrel of more change and no doubt change that will mean the death of this life and the birth of a new one I am practicing this acceptance, looking forward to rising to a new life just as that mountain, that bird and that tree now blooming out my window have done.  As surely as there is death, there is life. As surely as there are endings there are beginnings. Today I am leafless and without flower but tomorrow I am in full bloom. I understand that I can love both ways of being.




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