The following snippet of writing is from Henri Nouwen, the Catholic author. It appears in his Lenten guide, “Show Me the Way.”
But mortification—literally, “making death”—is what life is all about, a slow discovery of the mortality of all that is created so that we can appreciate its beauty without clinging to it as if it were a lasting possession. Our lives can indeed be seen as a process of becoming familiar with death, as a school in the art of dying. I do not mean this in a morbid way. On the contrary, when we see life constantly relativized by death, we can enjoy it for what it is: a free gift. The pictures, letters and books of the past reveal life to us as a constant saying of farewell to beautiful places, good people, and wonderful experiences.
What Nouwen writes helps me to better appreciate my daily existence. It helps me to better appreciate the beauty and miracle of spring. There’s an incredibly moving scene in the movie, “Land of Plenty,” where the young girl, Lana, is sitting up and praying in bed, and she whispers, as she gazes out over a decayed urban landscape, “Thank you, God, for this day (pause), for this room (pause), for my life. Thank you.” I can say the same, knowing that without death there can be no life. Without defeat, there can be no victory. I am grateful for all that God gives me, and for the time in which he gives it.