Sunday, August 20, 2023

Less Daylight - More Choices

Sunsets are beautiful
The days are getting shorter! I am not only referring to the seasonal change but my changing life, as well. If you watched either (08.06 + 08.13) of the last two YouTube videos, I alluded to the theme of ceasing to explore life. A prevailing societal thought is that at some point humans stop exploring life in order to give attention to life after death. Prevailing thoughts usually are not for the benefit of the individual. Other motives are being established.

In the book, Out of Silence - After the Crash by Eduardo Strauch, he writes, "Instead of asking myself if there was life after death, I asked myself what life was before death." The author is a surviving member of the Uruguayan rugby team whose airplane crashed into the Andes Mountains while en route to Chile in 1972. A portion of the book recounts his seventy-two day ordeal prior to fifteen others and himself being rescued. There were forty-five passengers on the flight. They survived -30 degree temperatures at an altitude of 11,500 feet, crafting survival items from the wreckage, as well as getting nutrition from the deceased. His account is honest and deeply personal. It is bereft of any semblance of a happy ending. I found the depth of his life experience to be powerful, as well as respectful.

Death will be a reality at some point. Until that time presents itself, I want to live. Not simply exchanging air
A lifeless decoration

and having blood flow, but expanding my senses, my perspectives, my creativity, and my appreciation for all that surrounds me. I do not perceive this as selfish. Self care is never selfish. My days of focusing upon family concerns: food, shelter, medical insurance, education/tuition are in the past. Playing by the rules and earning income were chosen parts of my life. However, rules are meant to maintain order and safety. Income is one aspect of life of which we can never have enough, so we are told over and over.  Along with this is the projected worry about having enough for retirement. I believe we easily get bound to the rules while attempting to build walls of safety. In so doing, we block out life and forego the joy of living.

As a pastor, the concept of life after death has always been present, if not in the forefront. The congregations I have served, the hospitalized I visited as a chaplain, and the community members where I have resided have asked about life after death. Is the role of clergy that of dealing with what cannot be experienced in the here and now? The Christian Scriptures have numerous concepts about death and life which scholars over the centuries have attempted to blend into a homogeneous pabulum. Most often the teaching has been used to promote a type of moral playing by the rules. It has created hesitancy and fear of making choices today. The belief is that our free choices would negatively affect life in the hereafter. I believe what originally had good intentions has repressed more than it has freed. Personally, I no longer focus on life after death. As Eduardo Strauch aptly penned, "I asked myself what life was before death."

A lot to savor
My days are not getting shorter. There continues to be twenty-four hours each day. I am not waiting to be rescued from a disaster.  I have not lived this long to stop prematurely. In many ways I do not want to be mature! I am not opposed to rules. I am not opposed to safety. I am opposed to focusing so painstakingly upon the future that I neglect to experience my surroundings today. Death and what comes after that is not in my control. Choosing to live fully and freely today is a gift I want to continually unwrap!

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