November 2022 – Rev. Matthew Kern
Death, it seems, is fertile ground for new life.
This observation doesn’t come from abstract thought but is something I happen to witness on a near-daily basis in my line of work. As a hospice chaplain I am welcomed into a sacred yet admittedly particular space in the lives of others – namely, at the end of life. I join patients and their loved ones in the final stretch of life, journeying with them from the familiarity of this life to the mystery and promise that lie beyond it. However, what seems like a definitive end seems to sometimes also serve as the genesis of something new in the making. This looks like…
- a patient with a terminal diagnosis engaging in a meaningful life review and, in the process, engage themselves in a way never done before;
- family members finding new ways to organize and rally themselves for a new reality moving forward without their departing loved one;
- the blossoming of a peace, serenity, and/or contentment in the one passing away that, even if for the last season of life, is life-giving in itself.
While I will confess my surprise to see so many beginnings showing up in the midst of loss, I must also admit I really shouldn’t be that surprised at all. This rhythm of gaining in losing, receiving in letting go, yes even life coming forth from death is what Jesus called to our attention – not as new ‘rules’ to live by but an invitation to enter into the flow of the Universe that is always giving new life.
Crave works in the midst of the many forms of death that exist in our society. For those whose hope seems to have died, whose windows of opportunity seem to have passed away, whose trust in the prospect of a better future has long been buried six feet down, I see Crave and its leaders serving as agents of that new life that springs forth in the midst of so much loss. It is you, Crave, that are harbingers of that something new coming forth from the loss of the old. I can say this so confidently because I lived it through Crave itself.
At a time of very real loss and personal deaths of sorts, Crave invited me to experience something new in the midst of what was falling away from my own life. Joining the first Sanford cohort, I was given the opportunity to find new meaning out of old broken dreams, community out of places of solitude, and in a proverbial yet very real way, life out of death.
Death is an end, no doubt…but do not ever forget it also serves as rich soil for new things to spring forth. Continue to be that new thing in this world, Crave.
Crave Sanford I