Crucifixion and resurrection is the gospel of impermanence.
Nothing remains the same, not even the life of the teacher.
Peter represents us when he rebukes Jesus for talking of suffering and death.
We do not want to hear about death, about loss. It is a downer. We do everything in our power
to avoid loss and when a loss occurs we scramble to find somewhere to lay blame, we
desperately attempt to deny or to bury our feelings of grief and “get on” with life, get busy again
and reassure ourselves that we are ok.
Our culture not only supports but demands that denial. I can recall one of my teachers saying to
me, “You can’t live in a blue world Dixie, without being coloured blue.
Workplaces don’t give more than a couple of paid days for “compassionate leave”. Our
calendars are full; and once something is in the calendar we are committed. There isn’t time to
stop, reflect, feel and respond to the changes in our lives that result in losses. So we become
numb, frozen, “bored”.
Then we can become reactive; angry judgemental, dismissive, even contemptuous.
If we ever had the illusion that we can avoid change, avoid loss by our own will or by whatever
rituals we invent, then our experience of the pandemic should have shattered that illusion.
We are being called to a larger reality, to go beyond a limited human perspective to a spiritual or
Jesus is teaching his disciples, and us, that betrayal, suffering, rejection by the authorities and
even death are not the end of the story but a transformation of life into a larger reality. To follow
or live the life that Jesus is living and teaching by demonstration requires relinquishing the
biases that we carry for the truth of life in God; that preserving our physical life is not the goal.
We live in a reality of impermanence. And, whether we are able to return to a life that feels
normal or not, we are in a time of undeniable change in the world, from our relations with with
the earth and climate to our relationships with each other based on colour, gender, age, health
Jesus teaches the ‘how’ of living in a reality of impermanence. “…those that want to save their
life will lose it…” In other words whatever we cling to, a favoured image of ourselves, our
identity, reputation, status, another person, a culture, a job, a state of health, youth…all will be
lost in some way at some time.
“…and those who will lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it…”
We are being taught to let go of a fixed and permanent way of seeing reality and to open to the
mystery, the love, the healing, the inner peace that comes from trusting in the divine that there is
more and much more than we can ask or imagine.
Take up your cross and follow me is an instruction to take up the symbol of impermanence learn
to live into the teachings of Jesus. This is our true security.
Poem by Jennifer Welwood, a teacher of integrated spiritual/psychological work in the Buddhist
My friends, let’s grow up.
Let’s stop pretending we don’t know the deal here.
Or if we truly haven’t noticed, let’s wake up and notice.
Look: everything that can be lost, will be lost.
It’s simple – how could we have missed it for so long?
Let’s grieve our losses fully, like ripe human beings,
But please, let’s not be so shocked by them.
Let’s not act so betrayed,
As though life had broken her secret promise to us.
Impermanence is life‘s only promise to us,
And she keeps it with ruthless impeccability.
To a child she seems cruel, but she is only wild,
And her compassion exquisitely precise:
Brilliantly penetrating, luminous with truth,
She strips away the unreal to show us the real.
This is the true ride – let’s give ourselves to it!
Let’s stop making deals for a safe passage:
There isn’t one anyway, and the cost is too high.
We are not children anymore…
In this season of Lent in 2021:
What part of you must die?
What do you need to mourn?
Poem, Jennifer Welwood, The Dakini Speaks ©