Sunday morning I went to church, where my new niece Emery was baptized.
“Rise again to life,” said the pastor, “a pure gift of a new beginning.”
Sunday afternoon I went to a memorial service, where my dear friend John was remembered.
“Gracefully enter that temple,” I read aloud to family and friends in attendance, “and find your new life.”
I use the title of this post to equate these two transitions of baptism and death, either of which can be seen as entering a new life with God.
In addition, they each demonstrate that the only consistency in life is change. Losing track of this does have some short-term advantages (mainly, fooling ourselves that we’ll live forever), but as the passage I read at John’s service continues, fooling ourselves in this way has us miss out on much more:
“Contemplating one’s own mortality helps us focus and prioritize…We learn to make decisions without regret, we relinquish our grudges, gain forgiveness, and unburden ourselves of resentment, bitterness, and hostility…We become more appreciative, tender, and mindful of the richness and fullness of each moment.”
Birth is exciting as it’s a new expression of life. But on the other “end” of the spectrum, death is no mere ending. John’s death offered a room of life, 30 people he had touched, whose lives he had enhanced, and in whom he will continue to exist.
Birth and death aren’t a beginning and end, so much as they are points on a continuum extending far beyond these points. By seeing both points Sunday, by scaling back and gaining a wider perspective, I realized how life is something much bigger than a linearity of points A to B. And with that insight, each moment is enriched with appreciation for the experience and witness to this magic called life.
This article was adapted from my weekly email to family, friends, and readers. If you’d like to be included on this list, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And while you’re at it, tell me a little about yourself:)