Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meditations

Tibetian Buddhists had a tradition that at first glance seems strange. When someone was dieing, the Lama (priest) would take their pulse. At the moment of death, the Lama would begin to instruct the deceased in what Buddhists understood to be needed for the next cycle of reincarnation.

So why instruct a dead man? The explanation sometimes offered is that "you don't die all at once", so presumably there's time for a last minute knowledge top-up.

I found this to be profoundly unsatisfying when I first heard it. Institutions do not form and maintain themselves over centuries for something like this. There is a value to the community that ensured this tradition's continued practice: death is a time for the community to reflect on what it is to live, and die, and be human.

A meditation.

I find myself returning to the topic of Senator Kennedy. He was not popular among many of the people in this corner of Al Gore's Intarwebz. A common theme is hope that he is now meeting some sort of justice for his many, and obvious, failings.

I also find myself returning to the Volgi's comments that I linked last night:
I’d instead ask for God’s mercy upon his soul, for if we ask only for justice, we may receive only justice, and even a saint would flinch at that.
Now that's a meditation, on life, and death, and what it is to be human. And in my meditation, I find things in my own life that are less than exemplary. Things that, were I to receive mere justice, would make me flinch.

Grace is the central mystery of the Christian faith.
We're surrounded by it, but there's a trick that many people seem not to learn. Frederick Buechner describes the maddening simplicity of the situation:
A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do.
...

There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.
But only say the word, and I shall be healed.

It’s not the recognition of my own unworthiness or even the realization that He doesn’t care that I’m not worthy, that He embraces me despite my unworthiness.

...

“Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

He says one word, and I’m all better. And in that series of moments, I can only cry. I can only bare myself, offering Him the little I have, and ask Him to do with it what He will.

And He does. With a word, I am healed.

Does Ted Kennedy deserve this? Or does he deserve Justice? All I know, I've learned from Country Music: Now don't judge me, and I won't judge you/Because we all get judged in the end.

Or maybe a different song: I pray, to be a better man.

So good night, sweet Senator. And flights of Angels someone who sings like an Angel to sing thee to thy rest.



I Told You So (Songwriter: Randy Travis)
Suppose I called you up tonight
And told you that I love you
And suppose I said I want to come back home
And suppose I cried and said I think I finally learned my lesson
And Im tired of spending all my time alone
If I told you that I realized you're all I ever wanted
And it's killing me to be so far away
Would you tell me that you love me too
And would we cry together
Or would you simply laugh at me and say...

I told you so, Oh I told you so
I told you some day you would come crawling back
And asking me to take you in
I told you so, but you had to go
Now I've found somebody new
And you will never break my heart in two again

If I got down on my knees
And told you I was yours forever
Would you get down on yours too and take my hand
Would we get that old-time feeling
Would we laugh and talk for hours
The way we did when our love first began
Would you tell me that you've missed me too
And that you've been so lonely
And you've waited for the day that I returned
And we'd live and love forever
And that I'm your one and only
Or would you say the tables finally turned

would you say...

I told you so, Oh I told you so
I told you some day you would come crawling back
And asking me to take you in
I told you so, but you had to go
Now I've found somebody new
And you will never break my heart in two again
And so my meditation on life, and death, and justice, and grace: LORD, grant me grace, not justice.

But only say the word, and I shall be healed. Amen.

6 comments:

ASM826 said...

When you get time, take a look at my last two posts. They're long, but they bring a charge against Teddy much worse than his personal life, perhaps worse than Mary Jo

ASM826 said...

This, of course, does not change the truth of your thoughts. I wish him mercy because when my time comes, it will be mercy that I will want.

Borepatch said...

ASM826, I don't think this was about Kennedy. It was - if anything - about me, I guess.

ASM826 said...

Then it is my wish, my prayer, for both of us. That on the day of our reckoning, we find mercy, grace, and love.

Borepatch said...

Amen.

DirtCrashr said...

Will Kennedy reach for Grace and ask for healing? Or will he demand his "fair share" of it and be lost - I wonder.
ASM826 - thanks for the quisling posts.