FOR LENT 2013, ReadTheSpirit has two offerings for you:
1.) DAVID CRUMM’S ‘Our Lent’ Thousands of readers have enjoyed the day-by-day book of inspiring stories, Our Lent: Things We Carry.
2.) LENTEN JOURNEY The Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt, author of Ian Fleming’s Seven Deadlier Sins & Guide for Caregivers is publishing a new Lenten series:
Part 1: Introduction and ‘Deep Calls to Deep’
Part 2: ‘Rituals & Practices (and Flowing Water)’
Part 3: Surprised? Or, is this an invitation to a blessing?
Part 4: Legacy of imperfection and grace.
5: In death … is life.
By the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Pratt
THIS MORNING I WITNESSED IT—and I cannot keep it to myself. As often as we may see this in the natural world, the experience is riveting. Some truths we do not face easily.
Something must die for us to live.
That’s a fact. An axiom. A truth of nature: In death is life. This process unfolds all around us all the time, as simple as arising each day and eating breakfast—even our cereal was once a green and thriving plant.
So, there I stand, looking out the window, pondering the new day, enjoying a squirrel grazing beneath our feeders. Plumping himself against the winter chill; munching on grains as I had. Chickadees, Sparrows, Cardinals, Wrens peck at these kernels of life that we provide in our backyard buffet. As they crowd our feeders, they scatter an overflow on the squirrel’s head. Even a Downy Woodpcker’s sweet suet bits cascade over this fortunate grazer. Bounty showering all around him, he munches in fat contentment.
Then, a flash.
The birds explode from the feeders—gone—which is what I chiefly notice, at first. Until I realize the squirrel is gone as well. Where? I did see it unfold, I realize. The hawk shot down with talons and beak poised for the strike.
Now, I see that hawk lifting him almost softly—softly to my eyes. The squirrel utters one, short, sharp, final squeak. Soaring to a broad tree limb—50 feet above the fray. I witness a meal that will steel this regal hawk against the winter chill.
The danger past, the other birds return to the feeders one by one. Soon that colorful community is restored. But I cannot turn my eyes from the tree branch. I cannot help but watch—like catching a glimpse in my mind’s eye of myself in a coffin.
We say: In death is life. We know it. But, this is a hard truth, isn’t it? I sit down and jot this prayer, which I share with you today:
O Lord, I eat flesh and I eat grains.
All die that I may live.
This is not a prayer of guilty confession;
I pray in humble thanksgiving today.
Grant me awareness to undergird my choices:
Turn my competition and violence,
Toward stewardship and compassion,
Toward justice, kindness, mercy
And thanks for the promise of life.
Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.
This column also has been posted to the website of the Day1 radio network.
- Join in an Intimate Lenten Journey that leads us home
- Lenten Journey: Rituals, practices (and flowing water)
- Lenton Journey 4: Legacy of Imperfection and Grace
- Lenten Journey: Surprised? Or, an invitation to blessing?
- Lenten Journey 5: In death … is life.
- Lenten Journey 6: ‘Look into it.’ And, ‘Wonder.’
- Lenten Journey 7: Sacred doors into Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays
- Lenten Journey: Past Easter, Jesus waits … with breakfast