They say that life endings and transitions are in some ways a preparation for that greatest of transitions, dying. So I am noticing some things about the ending of my ministry. I have not been able to do everything I would have wished to do, or imagined I would do. For example, I wanted to have more final visits with people, more moments of personal gratitude and farewell. I wanted to give gifts, I wanted to express more appreciation. I wanted to pass along more details of how things work at my church–why do I know so many details? Who will they ask when I am no longer there?
Is that how it might be with dying, as well? That we finally come to realize we can’t finish anything? That we can’t express enough appreciation? That we can’t pass along enough of the knowledge we so carefully gathered?
Meanwhile, I am trudging along with the sheer volume of work to do to clean out my office. I am asking, What should be saved to pass along, and what should be recycled or shredded? I am remembering meaningful activities, caught in old file folders, that I had forgotten we had done together. I am asking, What do I want to keep for this unknown future life called retirement? Right now, I don’t feel connected to the magic, to the flow of the River. I feel as if I am in the dark about what the future might hold and where I am going.
Is that how it is with dying, as well? That we feel overwhelmed with the minutiae of our daily existence? That we are too weary to feel the magic? That we are fully in the dark about the mystery beyond death?
Meanwhile, our country is descending deeper and deeper into fascism. Social support systems are being gutted, even as I am wading through the bureaucracy of signing up for Medicare, Parts A, and B, and D, and supplemental. Migrant children are being detained in cages, while their parents suffer, also caged, not knowing where they are. Discriminatory exclusions are ruled legal. Courageous people are protesting in the streets, making a loud noise, saying don’t go gentle into that dark night. And I am at home in this liminal space, unable to participate in resistance, exhausted and weary, and all I can do is pray, and that, not very well.
So I come to this morning, this morning of my birthday of all things, and I finally write in my journal after several days neglect. I set it all down, by setting it in words on paper. And that is my prayer, setting it all down, while I sit outside in the backyard. I feel as if I am in labor, but to what purpose? Someday, too, I will enter the labor of dying, and what will be the purpose of that?
Finally, I realize, we cannot finish everything that needs doing. All we can do is surrender into the Mystery. And so I do. I surrender to you, dear Creator, dear Goddess, dear Mystery. I surrender to you, dear River, dear Ocean, dear Love. You have been my source and strength since before I was born, you have led me through dark valleys into transformation. So I trust you, and I surrender once again, into the Unknown, into the Mystery. Have mercy on us all.