Posts Tagged ‘Life’

An elderly lady told me this week that she still feels like a young girl in her mind; it’s just her body that’s slowing down. My grandpa used to tell me, “I feel strong in my mind. I want to go outside and build something or go fishing, but my body just won’t let me.” Apparently it also happens in our youth more subtly, as the Navy Commander warned a young Top Gun named Maverick, “Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” 

Listening to Springsteen this morning I caught a line I hadn’t really noticed before, 

“Let your mind rest easy, sleep well my friend
It’s only our bodies that betray us in the end”

Even if we find salvation, enlightenment, athletic prowess, or just a life well-lived, our bodies will betray us in the end, if our minds don’t go first. It’s just the way of nature. None of us get out of this alive, well not clinically speaking anyway.

Call me a Christian, a mystic, a romantic or an eternal optimist, but I believe we can live and die alive to life and to every moment. Jesus said, “even though he die, yet shall he live.” Some believe that’s about the next life, but it’s definitely speaking about this life too. He said, “Whoever wants to come after me must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” When Ram Dass talked about that verse, he said, “The trick is to die before you die, then you can really live.” To die to our selfishness, our small selves, our fragile egos, our isolation, our way. To die to our deception that old age, sickness, and death comes to everyone else but us. 

When we die in that way, then shall we live. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” Rather than depress us, that simple truth wakes us up to the precious gift that life is, this day, this moment. 

Our bodies aren’t the enemy. We do what we can, when we can, and take care of them as best we can, but this is an awfully short ride in the big picture. Maybe it’s only a betrayal if you expected it to be otherwise. 

October Trumpets 7

These bright little trumpet-shaped flowers appeared on my fence last year in early October. This afternoon while walking around the yard, I found them on the same fence again. More buds than flowers but no less beautiful. I had forgotten all about them, and it amazes me that they bloom defiantly at this odd time of the year. They hid throughout spring and survived the withering heat of a Louisiana summer. It just so happens that today is the first cool day we’ve had at the end of the summer, a sign of things to come later but not here to stay just yet.

Summer in Louisiana is Ordinary Time in every sense. “Winter never feels truly at home in New Orleans. An unwelcomed visitor that shows up long enough to remind us of what we’re missing, then leaves us just in time for us to forget again.” (A Love Song for Bobby Long) I guess that’s part of the reason that the changing of seasons has always been sacred to me. It affects me deeply. As much as I love springtime, the new colors, and digging in the dirt with my hands, I think I’ve always loved fall the most.

By the time summer finally wanes everything and everyone is parched and wilting. For some reason my soul usually feels that way by now. Every chance I get I have the windows in my house and car wide open during spring and fall. For a few days this week I’ll get to soak it in as we go from summer to fall to summer to fall again finally. I suppose the main reason the changing seasons affect me so much is that they mark time for me in a way the calendar never can. I feel and know for myself that time is passing. It gives me sacred time to reflect, to take in, to breath out, to mourn, to look forward, to wonder…

The school year is getting underway. The Fair will be coming round before long ushering in the holiday season earlier and earlier every year. While the long awaited ball games kick off and the post-season plays out, the parched leaves will give up their color in a brilliant show and fall slowly to the ground, over and over making room for memories. This is a time for remembering, and I don’t want to rush it. September, take your sweet time.

Driving down the interstate cruise on 75 and Springsteen on shuffle my imagination takes the wheel. I push the throttle in, gently pulling back on the steering wheel with two left fingers as the wheels below me come off the ground. I push the nose over hard and trim it out, flying just off the ground. Watching the highway stripes fly by below my window and the airspeed indicator climb I keep my eye on the power line crossing the highway just ahead. The yoke is pushing back. These wings want to fly. Too soon and I might stall, too late and the wheels may clip the line. Hold it… hold it. As soon as I clear the line, all that speed is going to shoot this plane up like a rocket. I’ll let her climb fast and steep trimming it out just before I stall, bank left and head into the sunset.

I have no idea how many times I’ve caught myself daydreaming about flying over the years on the road. I haven’t flown since December 20, 2004. Fuel prices shot up, work slowed down, “I just won’t fly as often, but I’ll still go,” I told myself. Before I knew it a year went by and I was due for my physical and check ride to stay airborne. “Whenever I get the time, I’ll go get that physical done and schedule my check ride. Maybe in a month or two,” I thought. Life happened, work didn’t, and neither did flying.

I’ve met a few older guys who told me they had their pilot’s license but hadn’t flown in decades. I used to think there’s no way I could go that long without flying. You sit and listen to them. It’s in their blood. They talk about it with a romantic glare in their eyes, like they’re somewhere else outside the conversation. “How did you become a pilot who doesn’t fly?” I ask.  “How did you become a preacher who doesn’t preach?” They ask.

I don’t think I planned on it anymore than I decided to stop flying. I was going to work for a living. I had a family to support, and the longer I stayed in full time pastoral ministry the more I became convinced that something about the whole way we do church just isn’t right. I took a few months off, then began pastoring part-time while building a business. There was only so much of me to go around. I wasn’t doing the pastorate justice. The church deserved more attention than I could or wanted to give. I left. Within a few weeks I was getting phone calls to fill in for a Sunday or two. That turned into an interim position with no end in sight. A few months later they found a pastor. I was relieved in every sense of the word. Another church called. I went and for the first time in a long time really enjoyed going. A few months later they wanted me to stay for good. I knew it wasn’t meant to be and slipped out gracefully, opening the door for restoration between the church and its founding pastor who had desperately needed a sabbatical to take care of himself and his family.

The phone gradually stopped ringing, perhaps, because I always had “other obligations” that kept me from filling in. I had changed. A lot. I never felt compelled to drag people with me. I took no pleasure in telling people they were wrong and I was right. I always felt it most polite to avoid confrontation and let them believe whatever gave them peace. It just wasn’t for me any longer. It’s been a couple years since the last interim pastorate, but I don’t daydream about pastoring.

Although I don’t fly anymore and I don’t preach anymore, I still consider myself a pilot and a preacher. I haven’t vowed to never do it again. I just don’t know when I will again or how. I saw a book title yesterday, “Be Yourself Because Everybody Else is Already Taken.” I’m trying real hard just to be me. I really like it. It suits me. For a long time I was somebody else, anyone else. Everything and everyone shaped me into who they wanted me to be. No longer.

I never craved the spotlight. I ran from it when I could. Let me do what I need to do, say what I must say, then I’m out the door. Preaching was never about being center stage for me. I was the lens and the conduit through which the message was delivered, but I never wanted to make it about me. I started reading the Bible when I was 15. I mean really reading it, studying it, contemplating it. For some reason I understood it and could explain it simply. People began recognizing this and starting giving me opportunities to speak and teach. I just wanted people to see what I saw, hear what I heard. It was up to them what they wanted to do with it.

I still don’t miss the pulpit, but I do miss sharing things with people, showing them what I’ve found. I get excited over ideas and possibilities, like a new rock or a new bug I found in the yard as a toddler. Everyone must see it and be amazed like me. A lot of people aren’t amazed though. Most people, it seems, want someone to tell them what they already believe. They don’t want to be challenged. They’re not comfortable with having their imaginations stretched or their assumptions second guessed. No, sir. No, thank you. I’ve never been confrontational and would rather people go on in their delusions if that’s what makes them happy, but what do I do? What about this amazing, shiny, colorful rock I found? Doesn’t anyone want to see it?

I have to rethink community and what it means to me. I’ve had to rethink friendships and wonder who they really are to me. I think about sages and mystics from long ago. They didn’t climb a box in the middle of town and shout to the world. They were alone in their thoughts and those who craved to know more and to be more sought them out like moths to a flame. Like minds, like spirits attract one another. So, I’ve learned to find kindred spirits in unlikely places.

I don’t regret my time as a pastor. It’s part of who I am. It was another step on the journey. I don’t see my task as a pastor any different than my passion today. I have an innate desire to know and be known. I am working out my salvation and my humanity with fear and trembling. I am participating in my own evolution. That is the highest calling I believe we have.

Water Vapor Confirmed on Alien Planet | Wired Science

Yeah, I know. I haven’t been around much lately. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t had anything to write about or maybe too much to write about. Life happens. I haven’t felt like writing. It’s felt like an exercise, and I’ve been slack on that too for the last few weeks. There has been work, lots of work. There’s been sickness. Between the four of us somebody’s always passing something around. There’s been lots of family time, for which I’m very grateful, and there’s also been death. My grandmother ended her struggle with Alzheimer’s three weeks ago.

I never really expected to be affected by her passing as much as I was. I thought that I had dealt with this already. She started going downhill a few years ago, and for the last two rarely knew most of us. I don’t know that I fully grieved the loss a few years ago, or maybe it was a slow constant awareness of things lost. My feelings on the subject had degraded to indifference. Then she died.

I have been very fortunate in my life to have known all of my great grandparents during my childhood and also to have never lost an immediate family member in my now 31 years of life. I have had my share of death in the pastorate. It’s part and parcel with the trade. I spent many hours going through prolonged terminal illness with several people. You cannot help but become emotionally invested in others during such ordeals, but this was different.

Not only had we lost our grandmother, but in manys ways her passing closed a door on a huge portion of my life. Growing up as a child in south Louisiana is long since past and will not be again. Although myself and my cousins have grown up and are trying to find our way in the world, I believe each of us are those same little kids at Maw-Maw’s house. We may look like we’ve got it together, but in many ways we all still battle our same childhood insecurities. We just think when we’re kids that the grown ups have their act together. Ignorance is bliss, right? All sorts of family drama have not made handling any of this any easier.

My grandmother asked me a few years ago to preach her funeral. I agreed. Little did I know that I would no longer be pastoring churches and seldom preaching when the time came. The task is hard enough in and of itself, but so much of my belief system has radically changed. There are more things that I do not know than I used to know. Gone is the dogmatism. I live in the tension of mystery and paradox. I ended up spending most of my time ulogizing her and speaking briefly about her faith, which was also my faith. It didn’t help matters that her funeral fell on my birthday, but we move on, although walking slowly.

Do not hurry
As you walk with grief,
It does not help the journey.

Walk slowly,
Pausing often:
Do not hurry
As you walk with grief.

Be not disturbed
By memories that come unbidden.
Swiftly forgive;
And let Christ speak for you unspoken words
Unfinished conversation
Will be be resolved in Him.
Be not disturbed.

Be gentle with the one
Who walks with grief,
If it is you,
Be gentle with yourself.

Swiftly forgive;
Walk slowly
Pausing often.

Take time,
be gentle
As you walk with grief.

– From Celtic Daily Prayer by the Northumbria Community

I’ve been thinking a lot about death the last few weeks. Morbid, I know, but someone has to do it. I don’t know what happens when you die. I know all the lines about heaven and hell and what gets you where. I don’t think it works quite the way we’ve been told. The whole system is too conveniently construed to give power to those who want power and peace of mind to those who need peace of mind. Truthfully, I don’t think anything happens when you die. That really sucks when you think about it. Even hell seems preferable to nothing.

Listening to “Last Request (acoustic)” by Paolo Nutini a few days ago really brought home the gravity of the moment of our death and sums up my feelings about nothingness:

Slow down, lie down
Remember it’s just you and me
Don’t sell out, bow out
Remember how this used to be
I just want you to know something, is that alright?
Baby let’s get closer, tonight

Grant my last request and just let me hold you, don’t shrug your shoulders
Lay down beside me
Sure I can accept that we’re going nowhere
But one last time let’s go there
Lay down beside me, ohhh

I’ve found that I’m bound to wander down that long way road, ohhh
And I realise all about your lies,
But I’m no wiser than the fool that I was before.
I just want you to know something, is that alright?
Baby let’s get closer, tonight.

[chorus repeat]

Baby, baby, baby
Tell me how can, how can this be wrong?

[chorus repeat 2x]

Ooohhhh wohhhhohhh, yeah
Lay down beside me
One last time let’s go there,
Lay down beside me.

When you think about dying, it makes every day of living that much more precious. I don’t really know how long we have on this earth. Even if it were 80 years, it would not be enough. What matters most isn’t how much money you made and the stuff you’ve bought. What matters most is those you loved and the time you spent with each of them, which makes grieving over a death or loss of relationship all the more difficult.

Grief is a strange and unwelcome guest that you just don’t know what to do with and can’t wait to get rid of. I’ve been grieving in a way over leaving pastoral ministry. Not that I miss it, but that I get angry thinking of how I was used and tossed aside. Learning the painful truth that relationships were a means to an end for most people. They were friends with my position but not with me. I grieve over time wasted but find a measure of comfort in knowing it led me to where I am now. I also grieve over the loss of my childhood, the loss of innocence. Many people that I’ve talked to who have deprogrammed from ministry and from church go through a process of grieving with all of its stages. I’m somewhere in the mix… not where I was but not where I’m going. I’m just trying to take one day at a time and be myself. I’m not qualified to be more than that.

I’ve been working a lot the last few weeks, which is a good thing. I’m trying to get back on track making up for lost time, which has been a needed distraction. I’ve been able to be home a lot but not as much as I’d like. I’m looking forward to down time for the holidays and a change of pace come January. Something’s got to give. If you don’t mind, you might not hear from me again until 2008. Silence is therapeutic, and I’m overdue.

Happy holidays to all of you. I’ll drink a spiked egg nog in your honor and put 2007 to rest.

Colliding galaxies (photo from Hubble telescope)

Breathtaking! A few years ago my first thought would have been that this is the fingerprint of God. Maybe it is; maybe it’s not. I’m not able to answer that anymore. My first impression on seeing this image today is that we are looking into a mirror at a reflection of ourselves.

I’m in complete awe of the beauty and grandeur of the universe. It is inadequate and inconceivable to even say that it is big. I highly recommend you read this article just to get some perspective on our place in it: Window of Possibility: Why the Hubble Ultra Deep Field is the most incredible photograph ever taken.

When we see images like this, we cannot even begin to appreciate the significance of them. This image captures the birth pangs of our mother. This is where we all came from. We are the children of stardust, whirling and colliding in massive and spectacular beauty. All life as we know it has this common ancestry.

My 3 year old son was looking at family pictures yesterday. Some of them were taken before he was born with only his mommy, daddy, and older brother. He got very sad and asked where he was and why he wasn’t in the picture. It was a temporary dilemma of sorts for him to imagine that there was a time when he was not, just as it is sometimes difficult for us to imagine a time when we will not be any longer.

Perspective is what is lacking in our culture today… macro perspective. We have none beyond our own narrow selfish interests. Life is rare, precious, and beautiful. Every day, every moment, and every person in ours should be cherished and celebrated. The world and all those in it are not ours to exploit or to ruin. They are ours to love.

Wow! Leann Rimes has really come into her own. Her latest song “What I Cannot Change” shows the depth and maturity of her voice with rich and delicate reflections on life. Her voice is as tender as the lyrics are profound.

It is a tremendous step forward in life to recognize the truth that “all the rest is out of my hands.” We cannot fix everything, nor do I believe everything is meant to be fixed. Some things just are. The sooner we stop trying to resist the “divine flow” (to borrow from Chopra) and learn to embrace complexity, mystery, and wonder, we will find an enormous source of peace.

When we come head to head with what we cannot change, we have a choice to let it go, to forgive, or to love. Perhaps the latter is the hardest for most to understand. I think it’s wise of the songwriter to say “I will learn [to let go, to forgive, to love] what I cannot change.” It is not easy. It is a process, and one that we may not fully understand until we’ve been there and come out on the other side. It is possible to love what you cannot change, to embrace it, and to find beauty and truth in even the smallest of joys and heartaches. Read on »

I’ve been enthralled by Brian Swimme’s book The Universe is a Green Dragon. I trust that you already know that we are children of the stars, literally. The planets, comets, moons, and even life on earth are all products of star dust. For that reason Swimme describes the universe observing itself through us:

We are the self-reflexion of the universe. We allow the universe to know and feel itself. So the universe is aware of itself through self-reflexive mind, which unfurls in the human. We were brought forth so that these experiences of beauty could enter awareness. The primeval fireball existed for twenty billion years without self-awareness. The creative work of the supernovas existed for billions of years without self-reflexive awareness. That star could not, by itself, become aware of its own beauty or sacrifice. But the star can, through us, reflect back on itself. In a sense, you are the star.

This got me to thinking. Often we live our lives trying to discover where it is we came from and wondering where it is we are going, not knowing either for certain. What happens to the world around us once we’re gone? Did our lives really count for something? Make an impact on others? All of those billions of stars had no idea of their own significance until we came along, formed from the leftover dust of their death. Just because we don’t know what will happen in the future doesn’t mean we won’t make a difference. One day we will become dust again, and in time we will return to our source, another star in another time that will one day too explode into a world of new possibilities. It really isn’t such a small world after all, is it?

It never ceases to amaze me to hear what my kids come up with. My five-year old Timothy and I stopped by Sonic a few days ago to pick up a couple happy meals for he and his younger brother Andrew.  The attendant said the total was $6.08 and would be out shortly. I pulled out six $1 bills, dug in my console for loose change, and found a dime. I asked Timothy if he knew what a dime was, but he didn’t. I told him it was the same as 10 pennies. He laughed and said, “you’re so silly, Daddy.”

“No, I’m serious. It’s just like giving somebody 10 pennies,” I told him. Thinking I might quiz him while we were waiting, I asked him, “They said it costs $6 and 8 cents. So if I give her six dollars and 10 cents, how much change will she give me back?”

Without hesitation he said, “two pennies.”

Wow! That’s pretty cool. I know they didn’t talk much about money in Pre-K last year. I thought it was amazing that he did basic math in his head without any visual aids to play with. I decided to try again, “If it costs $6 and I gave her a $10 bill, how much change would she give me back?”

“Four dollars,” he spit out laughing.

Well, I’ll be dang. “You’re just too smart, Timothy. You’re gonna be the smartest kindergartner ever.”

“Yeah, I know,” he grinned all over himself.

I asked him a couple other math questions because it took forever to get our order, but the game quickly broke down because he was tired of it. When the attendant finally brought our happy meals, I gave her my $6 and my dime. She fumbled around with her change dispenser and her money apron. I really wasn’t sure if she didn’t know how much change to give me or was fresh out of pennies. She said, “I’ll be right back.”

I kind of laughed, “No, really I don’t need it. Keep the change.”

Kids can be a lot of fun. They can also be a lot of work and quite a challenge at times, but overall they’re a blast. My boys are at such a fun age and fairly independent. Even Andrew who’s 3 has the whole potty training thing down, can get his own snacks, and dress himself too. He’s even mastering the remote like his brother and his daddy. The boys even play really well together most of the time. Often when it’s really good, I wish I could just freeze time and keep them at this age forever. Who needs acne, girls, and graduation? You can keep the change.

Because they’re my kids, they don’t have to do anything to make me love them and can’t do anything to make me stop, but some things they do just really get me. I thought a lot about what makes them such a joy. I think more than anything I can see myself in them and relive parts of my childhood through them, but the greatest joy is seeing them do new things, learning, and growing. Everyday there’s something new to be amazed by. I guess I can’t imagine keeping them the same. I don’t want china dolls on the shelf.

I think they’re growing up way too fast, and I know it will only get faster. As much as I love these moments, I don’t really want to freeze time. I want to make each moment count, even if it is only two cents. On second thought, I’ll take the change.

I’m in love with words and dusty books,
the taste of deep red wine and salty ocean air,
drunk on a lonely tune and a sunset sky.

You might say that I am a romantic, in the classical sense. I go weak in the knees for ideas. I love nuance, symbolism, and possibilities. This makes me especially vulnerable to the seductive language of scripture.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “in love with the idea of being in love.” Dorothy Boyd’s description of her feelings for Jerry McGuire describe my affair with Christianity well, “I love him! I love him for the man he wants to be. And I love him for the man he almost is.” One of my favorite bloggers Real Live Preacher expressed this idea succinctly in a recent post:

Christianity has already shrunk in my lifetime from being the shining center of all truth and purpose to something less than that. Even looking at things from the inside, even willing to give the benefit of every doubt, Christianity seems like a bumbling, prosaic movement which is, as often as not, violent, anti-intellectual, and xenophobic.

But I love Christianity so much. Or at least I love what it could be. I want to hug it. I want to throw my arms around the beautiful language of salvation and redemption. I want to curl up in the warmth of my faith community, the people I love so deeply in this world. Truly they are like family to me. I feel I could get drunk on our ancient symbols, myths and stories, the ones that speak in luscious tones vibrating through a million voices across the centuries.

With time and disappointment love can change and devotion can wane, but for all that I have learned and all that I question about my faith I just cannot bring myself to walk away completely. In The Painted Veil Mother Superior said:

“I fell in love when I was 17… with God. A foolish girl with romantic notions about the life of a religious, but my love was passionate. Over the years my feelings have changed. He’s disappointed me. Ignored me. We’ve settled into a life of peaceful indifference. The old husband and wife who sit side by side on the sofa, but rarely speak. He knows I’ll never leave Him. This is my duty. But when love and duty are one, then grace is within you.”

I don’t stay from a sense of obligation or from fear of divine retribution. I think I stay because it’s familiar. These words I’ve heard so many times bring comfort when few others have. For all that I know there is more that I don’t know. I no longer look at the Bible as a rubik’s cube waiting to be solved. It has become more like a painting to me. One that requires long gazes from an open mind to appreciate. Every time I return I see something new in something old. Faith is not having all the right answers to spiritual questions. Faith is loving the idea of what could be, and the test of faith is in making small choices that bring those possibilities to life.

I have to thank my friend at thefirstmorning for sharing a link to an amazing website on his page Really Important Websites. I’ve only first visited it this afternoon, and have already watched four of the speakers. I’m in complete awe. Quality. If you ever stop and think the web is a mindless, endless medium and a good place for getting lost, visit It is redeeming, inspiring, and human.

“Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us.” ~ Brennan Manning, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat

I can’t say that there was a time in my life when I tried to portray myself as anything more than what I am, but there have been plenty of times when people have assumed me to be more than I am. While I have never intentionally embellished my persona to win the approval of others, I certainly never offered my weaknesses and failures for public consumption. No, we keep those close to our chest. So my silence indicts me still.

Our sense of what really matters goes through an evolution as we continue to grow. Like all humans I spent the better portion of my life hoping to be liked, to be accepted. Realizing what was required to be accepted by some people, I opted to be considered odd by those in hopes of counting others as friends. I grew more and more comfortable being my own person, but enjoying the favor of others never grew tiresome.

I lived too long with a flawed belief that if people really knew me, the real me, that they wouldn’t like me. Regarding some that’s probably true, but I came to painfully learn that those who despised me most were those that did not really know me at all. For the last few years it seems for me the sum of life’s purpose is to know and to be known. At this point in my life I would much rather be known than to be accepted. If those that take the time to truly know me also choose to accept me, I will not think more of myself but will think most highly of them.

If you’ve read much of my blog, you will know that I’ve been like a kid in the candy store the last year and a half learning to live life all over again. I’ve been through self-admitted detox to break my addiction to vocational Christianity and have begun the journey to truly know Christ and to know myself. My family is well and happy. I wish I could freeze time and keep my two boys at 4 and 1.5 years old forever, if not for the joy of watching them grow up. I’m in love with my wife who is still my best friend after 13 years. My business is finally turning a corner, and 2006 is looking to be my best year yet. I’m in love with life and am pursuing my passions.

Before you think I’m in a state of disillusioned euphoria, let me tell you that I have never been more in touch with reality. My mood vacillates almost as much as the balance in my checkbook. All things considered life is good, very good, and for that reason death is beginning to sting. Watching my kids grow up and the seasons change makes time seem to race on by. Who knows how many more years God will allow me. Forty, if I’m lucky. 1976 didn’t used to seem that long ago. My grandparents are getting older, and their health is failing. My grandfather was invincible when we were growing up, and now he seems very human. My grandmother has alzheimers and doesn’t even know her own husband or her own children anymore.

I read the Bible differently these days. I try to read it for what it really says, not for what I want it to say, or for what others have told me it says. [This is the point in the movie where you may want to change channels for a bit or risk getting really messed up theologically.] I’m not so sure anymore what I believe about heaven and hell. If both are real, something tells me people won’t be divided up so nice and neatly as we’ve been led to believe. If Jesus told us anything about it, He said that there will be a lot of surprises for many people. Some days I default to the nice Sunday School version of life that allows you to sleep in peace knowing that you’re an insider and have nothing to worry about. Some days I think that the blood of Christ covers every sin and no one is turned away. Some days I wonder if we just don’t die like every other creature and cease to be, simply return to the earth from which we came. No matter, death still stings.

I fell in love with the music of Johnny Cash some time last year, especially his later recordings. Johnny Cash was a man in touch with death and pain. He was able to vocalize what we think and feel about death like no other. You cannot listen to his music and not come face to face with your own mortality, which, I believe, is the key to truly enjoying life. The stark reality of death makes life more precious.

I don’t think we should live in fear of death but nor should we surrender to it. I’ve seen many terminally ill people over the years who cling to every last breath they can muster long after their body has given out. There is something in the human spirit that fights against death and clings to life. I’m not afraid to die, but not because I know exactly what happens after death. I’m not afraid to die, because I know God and trust Him to do with me what He will. Until my time comes, and it will, I will celebrate life and enjoy every day I’m given. One day, I will fight the good fight then lay this body down and rest in Him.