Psalm 49 speaks loudly of the reality that “you can’t take it with you.” No matter our success or wealth, wise people die, the psalm says, “and likewise the senseless and the stupid pass away leaving to others their wealth.”
No matter how I tried to ignore talking about death at the beginning of the day, I kept coming back to it, remembering an often repeated concept of our wisdom work that recommends learning to “die before you die.” What might that mean exactly? For most of us there are events or circumstances in our lives that we would rather forget for our poor handling of the situation or the pain we have caused, but blotting them out without learning the lessons they teach merits us nothing. Owning up to our foibles, expressing our regret, making restitution if necessary and then letting go is a “death to self” that opens up the possibility of a deeper way of living. Not beating ourselves up for mistakes but having the humility to acknowledge that full and true humanity is a skill learned as much through failure as through success seems the only sensible way to live.
If we practice letting go each day of our faults and the perceived failings of others, we will be ready to let go of everything about this human realm to which we have been clinging, be it wealth or prestige or relationship or even the lovely simple things of life. The reward of this willingness, we trust, is a letting go into the divine life that awaits us where we fall effortlessly into God’s embrace.