Can you believe it’s fall already? There seem to be two kinds of people—those who love fall and cannot wait for sweaters, football, and pumpkin spice everything and those who (like me) are mourning the end of the summer with its short sleeves, long days, and delicious fruits. Yet, as much as I resist the end of summer, I can appreciate the powerful metaphor that is the changing of the seasons. Perhaps you have seen a meme floating around on social media that shows an autumn tree with colored leaves and says, “The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.” Indeed, if we have eyes to see, the natural world has so much to teach us about the cyclical nature of life and the impermanence of all things. What better time of year to spend some time reflecting on and exploring the nature of death and what it has to teach us?
At our Unity Convention this year, Unity minister Rev. Myra McFadden gave a keynote address about her own recent experience of being diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. This brave woman, who is the senior minister at Unity of Kansas City North, opted to use her own health challenge as an opportunity to engage her whole congregation in an exploration of human mortality and the nature of death. She used a wonderful book called The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully by Frank Ostaseski as a guide in their exploration of this sometimes daunting, but ultimately profoundly important, topic. Rev. Myra’s message is one of hope and joy and love and discovering how to live fully in the face of death, and Ostaseski’s book offers us an invitation to go along on that journey.
And so as the leaves begin to fall off the trees and the days get shorter and shorter, I, too, invite you on a journey to see what death can teach us about living fully. I highly encourage you to pick up the book, which is available on Amazon (or Amazon Smile!), so you can follow along and go more deeply into this potent topic. We’ll spend the next five weeks looking at each of the five invitations, culminating in our annual Day of the Dead Remembrance Ceremony on October 31, in which we honor our departed loved ones. Along the way, there will be some fun cultural and artistic activities outside of our Sunday services for both children and adults to participate in. I promise this exploration of death will not be morose, depressing, or fatalistic. Rather, it will be full of joy and gratitude and appreciation for our beautiful, messy, fleeting human experience and everything we can learn from it. Please join me and let’s journey together!
Many Blessings, Rev. Michelle