Memento mori.

At church on Wednesday, they said that the Ash Wednesday service is next week. Ash Wednesday? It’s almost Lent already? How did this happen?

I was doing yoga that night, and at the end there is a position called Savasana, which I believe is called the “corpse pose.” I have been told that we do this pose both to rest our bodies and slow down after yoga, but also that it has a deeper meaning, something having to do with embracing death. So usually when I am in that pose, at the end of yoga, I pray a little bit and I rest a little bit and I think a little bit about death. Mostly when I think about death, I think about my dad. Sometimes everything that happened seems so long ago, like something that happened in another life or to someone else. And sometimes the smallest thing will bring tears to my eyes. It’s strange to think about all the things we have done without him, strange to see how our family looks now. These days, I just feel baffled that he isn’t here.

One of the classes I am taking is a young adult literature class, and for that class I wrote an evaluation of A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle (arguably my favorite of her books, and the one I return to most often). When I was younger, a lot of the lessons that it teaches about embracing death as a part of life went over my head, but when my dad was sick, I thought of that book more than any other. I have been thinking about Vicky Austin this week, about affirmations of life in the face of death. I have been feeling sad and lonely the past few weeks, so it’s been a good reminder to me to reach out to the people around me rather than retreating into my own shell. And yesterday was an encouragement, as I got to know some of the teachers at school a little better, as we watched a documentary and drank wine with some friends (aren’t we pretentious? Don’t you envy our yuppie existence? There was not just wine but also cheese).

I don’t really know what it means to embrace death, but I am glad that we practice it every year. I am glad for a chance to try again to learn with those around me as we enter into Lent. And that is what I will be doing next Wednesday, when my head is marked with ashes and I am told, “Memento mori.

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