This autumn, I’ve been reflecting on death. No, I am not suicidal or being morbid. This death is the kind that falls under the category of inner death. Over the past few years, many inward things have died. Misunderstandings about God have died; bitter attitudes have died; unhealthy behaviors have died; destructive thoughts have died. And with all this dying has come a renewed life—a new way of being and of living.
Yesterday, I was preparing Concord grapes for making jam. As I worked, I found that there was something delightfully sinister in removing the skins. As my left hand pinched each purple grape skin, it would spit through the stem end the soft green innards into my right hand. In the end, I had a pile of split and empty skins and a pile of warm and plump insides. The aroma of dying grapes saturated the kitchen and my heart.
That aroma wafted through my mind and brought thoughts of inner dying with it. Inner death requires peeling away some of the tough exterior and exposing some of the vulnerable interior. It is giving up self-serving attitudes and behaviors. This kind of dying has a sinister feel to it. The process feels disconnected and empty, but the end result warms and plumps the inner life. The death becomes part of a delightfully fulfilled life.
As I live in the aroma of death and life, I find that it is one of those mysterious paradoxes: life requires death and death requires life.