Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Being Alive and Having to Die

“Religion is our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die” wrote Forrest Church, the former senior minister of All Soul’s Unitarian Universalist Church in New York City. Having studied religion for over thirty years, it’s as good a definition as I’ve heard. It sharpens my core values of offering blessing and healing and living, as I am able, with loving care and attention. Just that. Everything else is commentary.

My barometer for how well I’m doing is washing the dishes after supper. With Bekah and Anna around, washing up after meals has become a big deal. Yes, I could ask them to clean up—and I do from time to time—but Bekah has become our primary chef, with Sukie or Anna as her assistant. Sukie cooks when nobody else wants to, which is much of the time. So by default, I clean up.

The louder it gets, the less well I’m doing. Aggressive cleaning. Banging pots and pans, throwing dishes and glasses into the dishwasher, splashing water, sponging violently. Cats scurrying in every direction. Complaining aloud that it’s not Thanksgiving, so what’s up with the frigging mess?

The other barometer is how placidly (or not) I leave the house in the morning. Rushing around with my head cut off. Cursing while I slap peanut butter and honey on two pieces of bread. Shoving items into my gym bag. Forgetting to kiss Sukie goodbye. Slamming the door as I leave. Not good.

Being blessing and healing for others. Living with loving care and attention. Slow down. Take a breath. Realizing that this life, this moment, is all I have. Religion is our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die. Thanks, Forrest.

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