A Daily Walk with Death

In honor of the first Sunday in advent and this season of hope and waiting — of the now and the not yet, of the light and life that is coming into the world — here is a poem I wrote in October. 

“We die daily. Happy those who daily come to life as well.” -George MacDonald

Recently, I have been dead.
Mostly dead, or perhaps all dead —
it’s hard, sometimes, to tell.

It came to my attention
while watching the beginning
of a YA sobstory — she’s dying, he loves
her, the typical.

But what caught
my interest in the midst of too long
pauses, and awkward stares, was her life.
The one she was still living. Her house of white
furniture, her bookshelf of stacked books,
her time spent writing, and building, and thinking,
and growing.

Simultaneously, Rainer Maria Rilke
has been speaking to me
from my beat-up ipod, via a dead
poet he once wrote to — telling
me to take my sadness and let
myself inside it. The suffering, the solitude,
the mystery, the life.

Saying to trust to time,
to the slow work of living. As long
as one is living.

But I have spent so much
time learning not to live.
Learning to hide myself inside
the worn pathways of my thoughts.
The stories I retell inside my brain,
turning and turning them
until they, too, are dead. Burying
my discomfort in that airless
room where no breath of wind
can rustle it.

I used to be alive. I know this. I remember
this. Remember (though it grows vague, muted
by time and inattention) what it was to be
a child. To have skin so thin the light shone
through. To have the world always
present to one’s senses. To have nowhere
to hide from the bigness of life, of solitude,
of joy, of pain. To have everything
mean too much.

How do I find my way back
to that beginning? Only when
dry bones dance, and children
are reborn, and petrified hearts
return to flesh —
only then could such a thing
be. And so we say, Come
Lord Jesus, come.


5 thoughts on “A Daily Walk with Death

  1. I recently read this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
    ” Who am I? This or the other? Am I one person today and tomorrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, and before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved? Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!

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