If you’re my Facebook friend, you may attribute this to the lovely porta potty in my driveway or the mud pit state of my front yard since the deluge of rain began a few days ago or the fact that a team of workmen just took chain saws to the gigantic silver maple in our front yard, taking the whole beautiful thing down. That tree had a knot hole in the trunk just like Boo Radley’s in To Kill a Mockingbird, where he’d leave sticks of chewing gum or a ball of twine for the neighbor kids, and it’s mammoth leafy self was a big part of why I wanted to buy this house in the first place. But the tree was dropping huge, heavy limbs that could flatten my grandchild, so it had to go.
I could write a depressing post of all the bigger things that are making me mopey, including the general state of humanity. Yay! What a fun read that’d be! But instead, let me share something CREEPY that’s giving me life right now.
It’s an app I bought for my phone that cost me 99 cents and I’m absolutely IN LOVE with it. It’s called WeCroak (yes it is!) and five times a day it surprises me with texts that say, “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.”
If you click on the text, it gives you a quote from a philosopher or poet or thinker about death.
I first learned about WeCroak from the cover of the November issue of The Christian Century. This week has been so crazy that I haven’t had time to do more than scan the article about it, but what I read was enough to give it a try. The app states that In Bhutan they say that contemplating death five times a day brings happiness, and as upside down as that sounds, it’s proving to be true, at least for me. After four days of repeated reminders of my own mortality, my outlook is becoming slightly different. I have moments where I’m finding some perspective, which is great for a person like me who’s so steeped, so drenched in FEELINGS. (Oh the feelings. Sometimes I wish I could run off to Bhutan or Florence or Idaho for a vacation from my feeling-full brain!)
Don’t forget, you’re going to die reminds me to live the way I want to live, to say the things that are important to me to people who are important to me, to prioritize the things that are important to me, to give to causes that are important to me, to call senators about things that are important to me, to have the fun that’s important to me, and to do it all now. Not NOW, but now. WeCroak is gentle.
Last April I started bullet journaling, which is sort of a cross between journaling and keeping a calendar, and as part of my bullet journal I started leaving room in my daily agenda to keep up daily with a certain set of tasks. Most of it is boring stuff that I need motivation for, including my daily plans for cooking dinner, flossing my teeth and doing sit ups, etc. (Now you know I’m even weirder than you thought!) But I also left a rectangle for each day in which I am supposed to record what holy thing happened that day- what experience was a brush with the sacred, with God.
As I look over all those rectangles from the past year, I see lots of empty spaces. But amongst the things I did write down, I find four general classes of things, including things children have said or done, experiences out in nature or among strangers, and things I’ve experienced in worship or at churchy events. But by far, most of my sacred experiences happen with people who are struggling with some kind of pain. Of course God would hang out there– I don’t know why that surprises me. When someone shares their pain with me, the worries or the sadness or the sickness or the disappointment or fear, I so often find God’s presence there.
Maybe facing the idea of my own death is kind of like that. When I think about it five times a day, it begins to feel like God is tapping me on the shoulder, just to say hi. Now, if I believed in a mean sort of God, a vindictive, petty God, who doesn’t love us all in spite of ourselves, this might be terrifying. But it’s not. It’s just a friendly tap. It’s a tap that says, Hey there. Love you.
At least it’s not yours!