Just as Lent was about to begin, a friend put me on to a little app called WeCroak. The app’s purpose is to put into practice a piece of Bhutanese folk wisdom that says to live a happy life one must contemplate mortality five times a day. So, five times, at random, a message pops up on my phone; “Reminder: Don’t forget you’re going to die.” You tap open the app and you see a quotation that is to remind you of your mortality. Five times, at random, each day.
I’ll admit that for me it started out as a bit of a lark. I annoyed my co-workers when the reminder would pop up: “Reminder: Don’t forget you’re going to die.” As the month has passed, I’ve actually come to enjoy – if “enjoy” doesn’t sound too weird – the messages. I like the randomness, as the messages have popped up at crazy times in my day. The quotes that show up can be a bit of a mixed bag. Some have been goofy, a few just too nihilistic for my taste and a few others I don’t think I understand. Two, in particular have stood out. One was from Joan Halifax, “Woody Allen has famously typified the attitude most of us find amusing and normal: ‘It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.’ Funny, yes; but the tragic distortion is that when you avoid death, you also avoid life.” The other was from RuPaul [I, perhaps like you, never really thought of RuPaul as a profound philosopher of life…], “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.” Hmm. That is, in fact, pretty deep.
I understand that this is probably not for everyone. Yet, I will say that it seems that a lot of people are shocked when confronted with their mortality and this surprise, by my observation, has a very debilitating effect on our living. Our denial of our mortality seems to have a profound power over us. Lent begins with the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Yes, this is to help us understand our true nature. But it also restores the power of the Resurrection. Much of the fear and terror of death is drained when it no longer has control over us. Resurrection is for people who have died. Resurrection is God’s sign and promise that our mortality, our death, does not have the last word. For me, being reminded five times a day that I will die also unleashes, five times a day, a reminder of the power of the Resurrection and a reminder that it is not too late to reorder my life in its light.