Thou shalt understand that it is a science most profitable, and passing all other sciences, for to learn to die.
– Heinrich Suso
As long as there is something we want to get out of life before we go – a little more money, a little more pleasure, a chance to get in a parting dig at someone we think has hurt us – there will be a terrible struggle with death when it comes. As long as we think we are the body, we will fight to hold onto the body when death comes to wrench it away. The tragedy, of course, is that death is going to take it anyway. So the great teachers in all religions tell us, “Give up your selfish attachments now and be free.” Then, when death does come, we can give him what is his without a shadow of regret, and keep for ourselves what is ours, which is love of the Lord.
There is great artistry in this. Death comes and growls something about how our time has come, and we just say, “Don’t growl; I’m ready to come on my own.” Then we stand up gracefully, take off the jacket that is the body, hand it over carefully, and go home.
What a great image to ponder this Holy Week!