“Can any of you add an hour to life by fretting about it?” Matthew 6:27
This quotation from Jesus in the gospel of Matthew has been read countless times but how many times has it really been pondered? It’s a deceptively simple sentence but like Morpheus, in the movie THE MATRIX, tells Neo, it’s actually a rabbit hole that many of us fear falling into.
My book, THE SCORPIO RING OF FIRE, is based upon my efforts to truly consider this line from Matthew. What I ended up with after many years of deep (and often dead-ended) reflection and meditation was a question. It was a question that when first asked caused an epileptic-like spasm through my body. It was a question that was to become the guiding focus of my life:
What if death is the most important part of life?
In that same section of Matthew Jesus says more:
“Don’t fret about your life–what you’re going to eat and drink–or about your body–what you’re going to wear. There is more to living than food and clothing, isn’t there? Take a look at the birds of the sky: they don’t plant or harvest, or gather into barns. Yet your heavenly father feeds them. You’re worth more than they, aren’t you? . . .”
“Why worry about clothes? Notice how the wild lillies grow: they don’t slave and they never spin. Yet let me tell you, even [King} Solomon at the height of his glory was never decked out like one of them. If God dresses up the grass in the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into an oven, won’t God care for you even more, you who don’t take anything for granted?”
“So don’t fret. Don’t say, ‘What am I going to eat?’ or ‘What am I going to drink?’ or ‘What am I going to wear?’ These are all things that un-spiritual people seek. After all, God is aware that you need them. You are to seek God’s side and his justice, first, and all these things will come to you as a bonus. So don’t fret about tomorrow. Let tomorrow fret about itself. The troubles that this day brings are enough.” Matthew 6:25-34
My meditations on these teachings ended up slamming me into my attitude on death. I was trained to put my death first. I was conditioned to protect, provide for and ensure the future of my body, first. Isn’t that what my bank accounts, my 5 year career plans, my retirement plans and my frequent credit checks were all about?
But, what if I lived with an acceptance of death instead of an antagonism towards it, surrendered towards the certainty that death will at some point come and with a different focus on life as a result?
What if I lived accepting that death is the most important part of life? What if life is just time that I have to surrender to death and to learn how to live life richly from that place of surrender? What if life only really begins when I have fully pre-accepted (intellectually, emotionally and physically) my death? What if death is truly my greatest friend on the matt of life? How do I develop a healthy relationship to this friend? These are the questions that produced THE SCORPIO RING OF FIRE.