Just across the other side of the pond, a dear friend of mine, Mary O’Regan, began a quest to discuss death and mortality on her Catholic journeying blog The Path Less Taken. Mary’s simple yet liberating writing style often allows me to reflect on things that I am normally afraid to touch. She exposes the gentleness of Christ’s love and calling by exposing her own self for the sake of the gospel, for the love of our Lord. I appreciate her not only because she is a dear friend, but because she gets me in a way few people do- allowing me to be vulnerable for Christ, showing me deeper ways to His heart and encouraging me to continue to leave the world behind and to succumb to His.
I had never heard of a Memento Mori before her post. This concept reminding us that we have to die is poignant, earth shattering. The latin translation is, “remember that you have to die.” And while the literal translation reminds so many of us as it did Mary of our brushes with our own mortality, for me it reminds me of the dying to self and living for Christ that I signed up for. It reminds me that in order to live the Christian life, I have to obliterate ego, shun the world’s teachings and keep my eyes, focus and desire on the Lord and His strength, constantly seeking His face.
But in a literal sense it reminds me of a moment when my abuse happened. A moment when I felt my soul escape my body and watch from above. I was floating high in the ceiling and was able to see my body on the ground below, and there was no doubt I died that day. That certainly wasn’t the day that I found God, but rather was the day my soul died. It was a painful twenty plus years that I spent as a dead person here on this earth. Marked with the shame of the scarlett letter “A” for abuse, I was sure that everyone knew. But it wasn’t just on the outside, it was my insides that had perished as well.
There are many reasons I know now as to why Christ waited as long as He did to save me. His timing is clear- impeccably perfect, and my suffering has become a way to connect with the crucified Christ. And in the crucifixion where I run so often, he reminds me that He is dead no longer, AND NEITHER AM I.
I have learned the skill of dying to self through the pain I have suffered, as it is a constant reminder of my mortality, the things I want to accomplish for and through Him who lights my way. In the world, there is no path to suffering, no death to self, no resurrection. It is only through the light of Christ that one can see eternal glory.