As my “heart pressure,” as my hilarious Sara Bug calls it, is high this morning over having woken up to all kinds of national news foolishness, I am not going to write about any of that, but, instead, talk to you about something – and someone – heavy on my heart right now.
And tell you why it’s so incredibly pressing to me that I do so. . .
In my posts, I remind us all pretty often that time is limited and we should get out and LIVE – most recently a few weeks ago.
And I always say that I’m not being morbid (and I’m not), but it is so so important.
Well, in the past week, I’ve had news of a dear 23 year old spoonie friend passing very unexpectedly as well the relapse of my friend that I wrote about recently who had a stem cell transplant and was living very well with “bonus time.” Both of these things have, of course, been just gut-wrenching.
In addition to processing them, my beloved author, Rachel Held Evans, who I wrote about in my Tiny Altars post, passed away on Saturday morning at 37. While I can’t say I didn’t know intellectually that this might well be the outcome – once I learned of her condition – I am no less shocked and heartbroken that all of this transpired in the first damn place.
As I’ve been thinking and processing, I read her last blog post, posted on Ash Wednesday, when she was perfectly healthy, with no reason to believe she wouldn’t be here with us for another 40 or 50 years. And here is how she beautifully ended it.
It strikes me today that the liturgy of Ash Wednesday teaches something that nearly everyone can agree on. Whether you are part of a church or not, whether you believe today or you doubt, whether you are a Christian or an atheist or an agnostic or a so-called “none” (whose faith experiences far transcend the limits of that label) you know this truth deep in your bones: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.”
Death is a part of life.
My prayer for you this season is that you make time to celebrate that reality, and to grieve that reality, and that you will know you are not alone.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Rachel Held Evans (March 6, 2019)
I don’t think she “knew” or anything like that. Quite the contrary, the earlier part of this post includes plans for her Lenten series for those struggling with their faith and what is happening within the church.
I just think this is SO incredibly beautiful.
And I also – seriously – had to chuckle and tear up at the same time when I first saw it because of this crazy experience I had awhile back relating to a blog post of my own. . .
It was another day when I had woken up to some crazy White House news – but I had ENOUGH. And I posted a hair-on-fire piece about it. Which honestly? I make a concerted effort NOT to do because I don’t want to spend my life writing about that. It’s just too much negativity ALL the time. But that day? I could take no more. And so I published.
And a few hours later, I had these crazy chest pains, which happen sometimes as a part of my autoimmune disease, but they can still be intense and scary. This particular night, they were so consistently strong for awhile that I was considering if this was an autoimmune muscular situation or a cardiac hospital situation.
I even took some aspirin, took my vitals, and had given it half an hour to settle down before I headed to the ER.
And I seriously prayed: Lord, please don’t let me die. I NEED to stay here with my people for a long time, I have things left to do, and the last words I leave on this earth can’t be all about blasting Donald Trump.
(I even considered posting something else – but didn’t have the presence of mind in my pain to do so. I also didn’t have the presence of mind to just delete the confounded post. I was a hot mess.)
So serious, y’all.
It’s funny now – but, at the time, I was really distressed.
Now, looking at Rachel’s last words on her blog (though, thankfully, she has one more book in production), I do believe the Lord graciously gave her the perfect ones to leave.
And it’s just another reminder that this all ends. Our lives are short, only a vapor says James 4:14.
The most beautiful eulogy was written for Rachel by one of her friends and I need to share it because she used her short short time so well:
With her loss, I feel strongly compelled again to remind us all, myself included, to really live well, reach for our big, and experience to this beautiful life, and to find joy, to become ourselves, and love God and to love our people well. ❤
And to be mindful that we will ALL have a last post or pic or tweet. We want to make it a good one.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Rest east, Rachel. You are already missed by many. ❤
Be well, everybody.
Grace and blessings.