Transformation of Death into Life
First of all let me say I am honored to follow in the footsteps of such wise and soulful persons who wrote their reflections before me. As I pondered what I would reflect upon, it came to me that many of the events of my life have been a real-life experience of Living and Dying – the name of our current living school.
Only a few weeks ago, I flew to Sitka Alaska to fly fish for salmon with a good friend and two new friends. I have had many opportunities to experience the wildness of nature, but I was not prepared for how wild, dangerous, and vast Alaska was.
It was spawning season for these Coho salmon. There they change color to attract their mate, use all their energy for returning to their home stream, for making eggs and digging the nest. They then have no energy for the return trip to the ocean and thus die, therefore becoming food for other animals to eat, or as they decompose add nutrients to the stream…..an amazing example of nature’s pattern of living and dying.
I too realize that there have been numerous times in my own life that I no longer had the energy to continue on the destructive path I was on – realizing something had to die within me so that I could transform to new life.
I was born to a middle-class family and all seemed to be going well until I realized my father was drinking more than my friends’ fathers. His behavior led to many disruptive events in our family. When you experience this behavior and all the hurt and disappointment that came with it, you would think you would never drink yourself. Not so.
I also embarked on a life of alcoholism and the accompanying irresponsible behavior. Fast forward to a Sunday afternoon when I drank so much to bury the pain of a broken marriage, it was not until Wednesday that I was cogent. At approximately 3:00 pm that sacred day, I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit say, “Your drinking is over”. I have not consumed alcohol in more than 15 years. The end of my drinking began the process of dying to an old false identity of myself and a beginning of a journey of self-discovery as to the truth of my identity and new life in God.
In 2017 when an opportunity arose to travel with a group of volunteers from the Praise and Worship Center to Isiolo, Kenya I jumped at the chance. May I inform you I am not a good flyer and was not comfortable with the 40 hour round trip travel time in that tube they call an airplane. I was further from home than I had ever been before and away from my Karen for 10 days. I was in a country where I was distinctively in the minority and in a part of Kenya well known for its extreme violence. Moreover, we were there trying to negotiate with some nice but inexperienced people that a freshwater well would be good for them.
In truth, I was fraught with fears and neurosis throughout my days there which I now had to face head on. It was there that I began the process of truly seeing these fears and step by step began dying to them so that I could more fully live. What I am now realizing in looking back over my life is that what often seemed insurmountable and appeared like death was in reality the fullness of life given to me by God’s grace.