16/30 – Momento Mori

According to Wikipedia “Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as “Remember your mortality”, “Remember you must die” or “Remember you will die” with that being said I sometimes go to local cemeteries to take photos and think over my own life.

I am not a morbid person, at times I have a morbid sense of humor, but there’s something about reading over detailed tombstones of  a person’s life that makes me wonder of the legacy I am leaving behind. Yet some of the tombstones I’ve read over the years haven’t been descriptive in that way, some are blank apart from a year, and some are so faded I cannot tell who lies six feet beneath me.

With the time I waste online, you’d think that I have forgotten that my life has an expiration date or that I think I’m immortal, but no to both I haven’t forgotten. Yet lately I can rationalize to some extent this part of my life, the job called looking for a job, so it hasn’t be a total waste of time.

Waste of time is a perplexing phrase to me at times, simply because the span of my life’s time is all there is, why would I waste some of it? I do what I can to make the most of my time, and there are times where I recognize what I’m doing isn’t so much as spending time but investing time; I mostly invest my time with the students I serve in a youth ministry setting, time invested in building rapport and aiding in their spiritual journeys, things of this nature matter here but to some degree on the other side of eternity.

I do keep myself busy at times, and I’m okay with that, yet sometimes I just need some “me time” apart from everyone else, to catch my breath before I go back to whatever tasks are required of me.

This is all the time you or I will have, make it count, Momento Mori.

~Nathanael~

Reaching melancholic transcendence; Life and Death in community

2 Thursdays ago I was helping out at the local soup kitchen, to my surprise my most favorite helper was there! Arlene’s an older Irish lassie whom I and care for deeply, our relationship is one of lovingly putting each other down in a playful manner, our words aren’t aimed at one another in a mean way, we just thrive at being kinda snarky and clever word-wise to one another.

Being an older woman, she has a hard time getting around, and winters in IL aren’t good for her and so when it gets cold out I hardly see her during this time of the year. She and I talked casually/snarky to one another for a while, but then she dropped the ball; due to a lot of doctor appointments, blood tests, et al. she may have cancer…and due to how old she is, it doesn’t seem like it’s a battle she wants to fight and she’s ready to go.

We continued laughing and enjoying one another company, but in my mind and in my heart I recognized the impermanence of our time together, and I thought about there will come a time when Arlene’s no longer here and I will cry alone…

***

Recognizing community, and being in community, and living in community, I have re-realized that death is also a part of living in community. Every individual and spectrum of life in community needs to be honored as needed be, and there needs to be honor even in the death of those who live among us. Arlene has a good support system of 2 kids and 5 grandsons who live rather close to her, so I know that if it is her time to go she will be taken care of.

She’s had a good and rich life, I am simply enamored by her stories and her willingness to serve others in a loving manner. She hasn’t revealed every facet of her life, but I sense her compassion for the homeless and downtrodden comes from some place personal, I don’t know for sure but I know that some of the best volunteers seem to understand it better than those who may consider (or at least reflect an attitude) the people who come in week after week as “freeloaders” or “they’re abusing the system”.
These homeless and downtrodden people are my friends, and some of them I’ve gotten to know really well and we don’t bullshit each other, we’re intentional in our words and quite honest with our circumstances…I get it and Arlene does as well.

I am blessed to know Arlene, and I am glad she gave me her digits before she left so I can check up on her, she tells me I’m her angel, and if that’s what I am in loving on this woman, so be it, I will be her angel.

I will enjoy her life while she’s still here, and when her time comes I will celebrate her life in her death, and honor her, and I think that’s the best thing I can do given my circumstances living in community.

~Nathanael~