I’ve heard it said before that all of life can be understood as BIRTH, DEATH, & RESURRECTION, for these are the three pillars of the spiritual life. In this season of Lent, I think they form a helpful frame in which to reflect and prepare. My next three letters will focus on one pillar at a time as we prepare for holy week.
New life is ripe. Ripe with potential. Ripe with opportunity. Ripe with goodness. Ripe with hope.
When something is born, it’s nearly always in what the Celtic Christians call a “thin place”, where the veil between heaven and earth is pulled, and we are able to see differently.
We all go through the “birthing” process to enter our world. Creative work leads to the birth of beautiful things…
…whether it’s a baby, a puppy, a chick, or the bud of a rose beginning to bloom.
…whether it’s an inanimate creative work, such as an album, a painting, or a sculpture.
…whether it’s an idea, concept, or solution.
The arrival of something new in the world changes us.
The man ‘birthed’ over 800 masterful paintings in his tragically short career, but he sold only one during his lifetime.
The irony of Vincent’s tragic life should be lost on no one. One of the greatest painters of all-time died a commercial failure. One sale, but hundreds of works of art that teach us about beauty, complexity, and love.
It seems absurd.
But when we reflect a bit more, it’s not so absurd. You see, there’s a deeper irony when it comes to birth.
Most often that which is born is more beautiful and pure than the world it enters.
When we do, we learn to live in the tension of birth and death.
In this broken, fractured, and polarized world, we need birth. I think this is what Jesus was getting at when he was teaching Nicodemus about how to see the kingdom of God (John 3). We must be “born again.”
We can change. We can see things anew. We can live differently. We can “birth” again, and we can be about birthing new things: midwifing the arrival of “life” through art, ideas, service, worship, family.
We are all a people once born.
We are all a people facing death.
We can hold hope in the midst of pain and suffering.
We can live in this world but not be of it.
Q: What “births” have been most formative in your life?
Q: What “life” can you help arrive into this world?