Perhaps it is because I have reached, dare I say it, mid-life. Or perhaps it is because of the year or so that we have just had and our still fragile hope for being now beyond it. Either way, I find that I have been pondering whether the underlying pattern of life is experienced more as a series of losses only or as series of deaths and associated re-births. In more positive and complacent phases of life, I have focused on the gifts-received side of life. But this year, loss of various kinds is more front and centre for all of us.
Yet it is not loss alone. The Christian motif is letting go in order to receive, loss and then gift, death and resurrection. Jesus said: ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’
Perhaps we should notice that where old plans fail there is space for new ones to emerge. Where chapters end, new ones begin. Old expectations of ourselves or others must wither so that new ones can be explored and shaped. A little inward dying from which a little inward rebirth flows may be the Spirit’s work in you.
This is not to belittle the real grief that we feel at the loss of someone or something we truly love. But it is to say, I think, that loss alone is not the primary pattern for God or therefore for human life. Rather, the primary pattern is, I believe, of dying and new life, in ways both small and large, over and over again, right through to the end. And in that there is profound hope.