Saturday, June 20, 2009

celebrating the paradox

In Creative Ministry, Henri Nouwen writes:

“When we speak about celebration we tend rather easily to bring to mind happy, pleasant, gay festivities in which we can forget for a while the hardships of life…. Celebration is only possible through the deep realization that life and death are never found completely separate….Celebration is the acceptance of life in a constantly increasing awareness of its preciousness. And life is precious not only because it can be seen, touched, and tasted, but also because it will be gone one day….We can indeed make our sorrows, just as much as our joys, a part of our celebration of life in the deep realization that life and death are not opponents but do, in fact, kiss each other at every moment of our existence.”

In America, we have been so careful to make death separate from living. In fact, many view death in a frightening, horror-movie kind-of-way. God, however, sees it as a normal part of life…a part that is coming to all, just a surely as birth. He even says in Ecclesiastes 7:1: “…the day of death (is) better than the day of birth.”

At first, when I thought of Kathy’s death, I thought of it as “untimely,” and abnormal…a thing that happened that was really not supposed to happen. I have come to think, though, of the day of her death as much a part of “the truth of her life” as the day of her birth. It was a day that has been known since the beginning of time…but that we, in our finite thinking, have trouble coming to grips with.

So…I’m trying to learn to better appreciate life as the most precious gift God has given me, and to also accept death as the other half of the truth of my life…to embrace it all…to celebrate the paradox.