Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dying to see.

A good friend of mine sent me an archive of last words spoken by executed criminals today. There were hundreds of them in the file, and after about five I began to feel strange for reading them. But I couldn’t stop.
I was struck by the fact each of them felt so similar in tone.
They spoke of God.
They spoke of lasting love and unity for their friends and family.
They spoke of forgiveness.
It’s easy to recognize fear motivating these words seconds before your execution. I’m sure they were scared. But it reminded me I'm a terminal being myself. I have seconds too. Just a lot more of them. Hopefully. As I’ve thought about this I’ve wondered if the relatively short span of our lives, criminals and saints alike, doesn’t serve as a great humbling. An indelible reminder that there’s ultimately nothing to compete for, to divide over or any real reason for which to give in to selfishness. We will die. It’s just a “when?" So we might as well live focused on the goodness of God, enjoying opportunities for unity and closeness with others and forgiving ourselves and others for the ways we thought we could cheat death with selfishness. the things death row inmates speak of in their final minutes.

Perhaps we need death clearly in view to be able to clearly see everything that matters. And maybe this seeing is the beginning of resurrection. That is, the beginning of living forever once death has done its humbling.

May God grant you many, many seconds, and eyes that see forever.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Free way

Last week I bought a new CRV. And since then, so apparently did every third person in Wake County. I now see them everywhere. If I lined up all the CRV's I now see on the roads, I could walk across the top of them all the way to East Liberty Ohio.

Have you noticed this phenomenon? Cars, shoes, coats, haircuts, favorite bands...once you partake, you awaken to the fact that you are part of a mass partaking. Something you didn't notice before becomes all you see.

There is power in confession. Not confession as in going and telling a trained stranger your secrets, but in having a community of people with whom you can share life and be honest. The power isn't that God suddenly loves you again for enduring the pain of humiliating disclosure. The power is in letting your inner world be known and having others not run in fear and judgment like you've be certain would happen since childhood. When we're honest with each other, we not only find there is love available for ourselves, but we also find that the assumed hierarchy of goodness and purity is an illusion. Everyone is struggling. Everyone is broken. Everyone is doing their best to grope through the dark. It's all just a matter of brand and scale.

Confession, or shall we just say, being honest with a trustworthy few, isn't just about revealing the skeletons in your closet. It's reminding ourselves that you're not the only wretch. And once you begin to realize that these things you carry for so long, having assumed you're uniquely terrible or unworthy, are only a slight variation on what everyone else is carrying, you will have peace. You'll no longer judge. You'll no longer condemn. You'll no longer compete because that contest can only be won by lying. You will simply be free to live, free to love every other person because you realize you and every other person were always driving different colors of the same car.