Memento mori

I’d like to have my papers in order when I die. It’s about sparing my loved ones, of course. (Or is it actually to tidy me up? Didn’t our mothers say you should change your underwear, just in case you landed in an accident?) So I’ve been making periodic stabs this year at the journals, files, boxes of research, projects in their various stages. I got rid of that pile of index cards on which I traced the chronology of a man about whom I was tempted to write a biography (a better one than existed, I mean). I dumped a few folders of articles I’d clipped that, seriously, I will never use. I transcribed a year of diary.

Alexander Nevsky Monastery cemetery, St. Petersburg

Lately, the call to review and pare seems urgent. But sometimes I’ll be struck by the fear that thinking about death and acting in this anticipatory way is some kind of signal that it’s just around the corner. Continue reading

Guest post: When Lent coincides with dying

Leona Dueck Penner

Leona Dueck Penner is a long-time writer, especially in Mennonite media. Most recently, she was national correspondent for Canadian Mennonite magazine. She and I were in a writing group together for several years and the friendship formed there has continued. I’m so pleased that she is willing to share her reflections on Lent as a guest post here: 

When M. asked me what I was committing to or giving up during Lent this year,  I replied spontaneously: “Well, I haven’t really been thinking about Lent very much up to now in relation to Jesus’  journey to the cross because we’re quite literally experiencing an ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’  journey ourselves, with pauses at varying stages of the cross, as my brother-in-law L.  continues on in his slow journey towards death.” Continue reading

Life while away

Almost three weeks I’ve been away — west to British Columbia and then east to Ontario — and in the true spirit of Away, I’ve not been blogging, except for that quick previous post about history meeting and history making on June 5. I like to concentrate on holidays or visits or whatever it is that takes me away. But my neglect also reflects the zone I still inhabit technologically. Blogging adheres to my writing work, which in its turn adheres to places and routines such as my home office, my own desk and computer, a particular view out the window, and the hours I give to being in that room, fed by thoughts gathered in the daily rituals of kitchen and yard and relationships, and in books undertaken in my several favourite reading spots. In other words, blogging — for me — isn’t handheld yet, isn’t easily portable.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t been gathering all manner of experiences while away to think about further, and that I haven’t been reading, which travels along as easily and necessarily as my toothbrush. These weeks have swung the gamut of life’s highlights, in fact, from Birth to Death and the celebration of a child’s major Milestone, and I’ve been into several fine books. But now I’m back, re-settling Home and the routines of my work, and then I remember, oh yes, Borrowing Bones… Continue reading