In mid-January I linked to an essay called “By Degrees – Living and Dying.” This essay was about a woman who was dying of breast cancer. It was a beautiful, deeply vulnerable piece that was not just about dying but also about living.
Living fully. Living faithfully. Living gratefully.
The author of that piece, Kara Tippetts, died yesterday. She was 38 years old. Her blog, Mundane Faithfulness, posted a piece called “Homecoming” yesterday that announced her death.
Kara touched more people in her journey of dying than most do in their journey of living. In an interview for a documentary on her life she said this: “I feel like I’m a little girl at a party whose dad’s asking her to leave early. And I’m throwing a fit. I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to go.”
Today is Monday and it threatened to be mundane until I read that this woman had died. Suddenly, life matters more. Monday matters more. Because as long as we have breath we are called to live, really live, wherever we are placed. It doesn’t matter how mundane the days – they are still days that we are given as gifts. Days where we are called to be faithful to what we know, to what we see. Nothing more – but nothing less either.
The title of Kara’s blog comes from words penned by Martin Luther: “What will you do in the mundane days of faithfulness?”
If earth meets Heaven in Divine Liturgy on Sunday, what happens on mundane Mondays? What does being faithful mean?
“It means I’ll give a nod and a smile when I don’t feel like it, that I’ll stop and communicate with the marginalized when I see them on the street, that I won’t gossip about co-workers when they make me angry, that I won’t get hung up on statistics and who is reading blog posts, that I will communicate in spirit and in truth, that I will love hard and pray harder, that I will read and speak words that honor God, that echo truth. Just be faithful.
The words continue “Marilyn, I know you’re tired. Just be faithful. With my strength be faithful.” There is now a heavy rain falling and those of us on our way to work are leaving the subway. There is a puddle three inches deep on the platform right before the stairs, just deep enough to seep into shoes before going up to dark clouds and rain. I’m still tired but I walk with One who knows tired, with One who knows pain, with One who knows what it is to live out faithful in this beautiful, broken world.
Just be faithful. The words are lyrical now, they speak through the mist and rain, redemptive and life-giving.”*
What will you, what will I do today, on this mundane Monday? How will we be faithful today?
Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known…That last kiss, that last warm touch, that last breath, matters — but it was never intended for us to decide when that last breath is breathed.**