THE FIFTEENTH DAY OF NOVEMBER IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN.
The past two or three weeks have felt uncommonly filled with reminders that humans eventually die, and that, as one of those humans, I will share that common fate. Such reflections call for prudence and not panic, and they certainly take no one by surprise. That the present life is limited rather than boundless actually enhances its meaning. We can live but one day and one moment at a time, be present at only one place at a time and, in any meaningful sense, do only one activity at a time. These restrictions encourage us to make choices, assign priorities, and anticipate the future.
Although we cannot do everything, and certainly not simultaneously, we can do all that our creaturely limitations, abilities, opportunities, authority, and good judgment permit. What is more, we not only can do all that, but we should, drawing all the pleasure and sense of fulfillment possible in the process. For every moment’s enjoyment of life, every taste of joy, every sharing of love, every flash of beauty — all are gifts of divine grace to a frail people living in a broken world. Indeed, for us mortals, it all goes back to God.
No matter what the circumstance, in our mortality we can always say: “when I am weak, then I am strong,” for God has promised, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” In the words of the old hymn, we “frail children of dust” confidently approach the heavenly Father as “our Maker, Defender, Redeemer and Friend,” entrusting to him our lives — our moments and years however many or few — confident of his faithfulness and power and love. And in that confidence we can look mortality squarely in the eye and laugh at death. Chortle, chortle, mortal-portal.