Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Author: Circle of Hope (Page 1 of 570)

May 22, 2022 –There’s no quick fix for the anxiety of death. 

This week we will be exploring L.S. Dugdale’s book, “The Lost Art of Dying: Reviving Forgotten Wisdom.”

Today’s Bible reading

John 14:1-4 CEB

14 “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. 2 My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? 3 When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. 4 You know the way to the place I’m going.”

More thoughts for meditation 

Dugdale references three modern views of death that reflect our societies anxious urge to put the unknowable in a box, give it labels and attempt to file it away so we don’t have to worry about it again. This assumes that not practicing daily reflections on our death will be better than keeping our mortality at the front of our minds. As L.S Dugdale says in The Lost Art of Dying “there is no quick fix for the anxiety of death.” Even for people who practice this meditation regularly. But what is usually found by remembering our death is a deepening of humility and a consciousness of how precious every moment is. 

Reflecting on passing through to the Great Unknown will mean unknowable things for us but it will at least mean we are saying goodbye to the world as we know it. Ruminating on this truth may help us to see what we have as special. Seeing ourselves as truly unique in this world and whose demise is inevitable may help us to treat the people we meet with  a deeper respect. Even more the people we love. 

Dugdale argues that recognizing finitude and embracing community are the foundational elements of dying well. As you can imagine, these tasks are much more valuable if practiced over the course of a lifetime. Much more valuable than waiting until the years before your death to do so. The point is the sooner we can prepare to die well, the better.

Suggestions for action

Allow whatever comes up for you to exist for a few more moments. Your experiences around death will undoubtedly be uncomfortable to remember. Take some time to journal or think about these questions.

What is the worst part about the fact that you are going to die? Take note of what emotions come up for you…fear, anger, sadness? How easy would it be for you to bring the topic of death up to somebody you’re close with? Would they at least listen to your reflecting on these questions if not answer them for themselves?

May 21, 2022 – The Lost Art of Dying: Spirit

This week we will be exploring L.S. Dugdale’s book, “The Lost Art of Dying: Reviving forgotten wisdom

Today’s Bible reading

Luke 22:14-20 CEB

14 When the time came, Jesus took his place at the table, and the apostles joined him. 15 He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 I tell you, I won’t eat it until it is fulfilled in God’s kingdom.” 17 After taking a cup and giving thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 I tell you that from now on I won’t drink from the fruit of the vine until God’s kingdom has come.” 19 After taking the bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you.

More thoughts for meditation 

“For a discussion of spirit, it seemed appropriate to present stained glass as another art form closely related to an art of dying. Stained glass can be found in churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship, as well as in cemeteries and funeral parlors. This image links the notion of shalom (written in Hebrew) to what is described in the chapter as “vandalized shalom. “The glass is composed of fragments, more clearly shattered in the bottom half. The dove, which represents peace or shalom, is itself fragmented and inverted. Preparation for death helps to rescue us from vandalized shalom.”

Suggestions for action

Often, religious communities help us consider the existential questions the come up at the end of life. Practicing moving from lent to Easter is one way our community practices processing our questions around death. Yet, for many people who are “spiritual but not religious” Dugdale asks “do we feel compelled by the demands of modernity to shirk the beliefs of traditional religious communities?” 

Which religious practices have been most useful to you for offering hope as you think about death? 

Google that practice an learn something about it. What are the meanings behind the symbols used?

 

If a practice doesn’t come to mind, pray that God would introduce one to you and ask a spiritually minded friend about some practices that are valuable to them. 

May 20, 2022 – The Lost Art of Dying: Fear

This week we will be exploring L.S. Dugdale’s book, “The Lost Art of Dying: Reviving Forgotten Wisdom.

Today’s Bible reading

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”

More thoughts for meditation 

“For a chapter on fear, this image was designed to represent—as well as induce—its subject. 

This is a disturbing piece of art, and over the course of its many renditions the artist toned it down significantly. A young woman, eyes wide open in terror, lies in a hospital bed that bears a striking resemblance to an open coffin. It is not exactly clear whether the oxygen mask is helping or smothering get. Her arms are hidden, which prompts the viewer to ask whether she has the ability to escape from the encroaching darkness.”

Suggestions for action

What comes up for you as you look at this picture, is it difficult to put yourself in her shoes? What if you got to your deathbed and felt overwhelming fear at what was to pass? What would comfort you most in those moments?

Consider Jesus’ promise to be with you always, even to the end of [your] age. How does that impact your experience of dying?

May 19, 2022 – The Lost Art of Dying: Context 

This week we will be exploring L.S. Dugdale’s book, “The Lost Art of Dying: Reviving forgotten wisdom

Today’s Bible reading

2 Timothy 4:9-13

9 Do your best to come to me quickly. 10 Demas has fallen in love with the present world and has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark, and bring him with you. He has been a big help to me in the ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring along the coat I left with Carpus in Troas. Also bring the scrolls and especially the parchments.

More thoughts for meditation 

“This chapter explores why so many Americans die in institutions, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices. 

A gentleman in a wheelchair provides a visual representation of the many people who grow increasingly dependent on the mechanisms of health-care institutions. This rising reliance on doctors and hospitals—both individuals and societally—is partly responsible for the fact that [until recently] a minority of people die at home, contradicting their own strongly expressed wishes.”

Suggestions for action

What does your ideal death look like? Where would you like to be? Who would you like to be there? Maybe remember the love you share and call some of those people this week to say hello.

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