Nothing Lasts Forever, Isn't That Great?

I've been wrestling with the idea of impermanence lately, which is to say I've been contemplating the fleeting nature of life, the universe, and everything. 

These thoughts often keep me awake at night, and then I have to eat peanut butter toast and re-watch episodes of "The Office" until my brain shuts off enough to let me fall asleep. 

There's no easy way to put your head around the idea that most of life is filled with impermanence, that nothing in our reality seems to last forever, and that even we will one day cease to exist. 

In the Buddhist tradition, impermanence is outlined this way: "Everything [in our perception of reality] changes, and nothing lasts forever." 

We also might say, "All good things must come to an end," which isn't a very hope-filled platitude if you ask me.  

To be fair, I've employed that phrase a few times with my kids when they begged me to stay up late or not leave Chuck-E-Cheese after hours of playing games.  

But I've also said it to myself occasionally as I've mourned the loss of a dream or stood in resignation over something I knew had to end but didn't want it to.  

I like the more hopeful way that Leonard Cohen put it in his song "Closing Time," "Every new beginning is some other beginning's end."  

There's something in that song that speaks more pointedly to the meaning beneath the meaning of impermanence and its role in our lives.  

Impermanence isn't a concept that should bring us to despair.  It should bring us to a place where we are determined to experience joy at the moment, take each day as it comes, and find peace, knowing that even the worst things we face have a shelf life. 

I recently read a fantastic poem by Mary Oliver that sums this up beautifully: 
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
        What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century, or the year, but the hours. 

This poem got me thinking about how God, in vulnerability, loves what is impermanent, namely us. It's an incredible thing to ponder, really.  

The love of God is extended to each of us and to all of Creation.  And God loves both in vulnerability and sacrifice, which we know through the life of Jesus, who embodied God for us incredibly and personally. 

And because we are created in the image of God, the beauty of loving what is impermanent is embedded within us--we are all capable of it, even as we feel the pang of loss when we experience the fragility of life. 

Our world, our lives will change.  We will experience endings.  But to find joy in life, we should also realize that every ending provides an opportunity for a new beginning.  

We do this one day, even one hour at a time.  Every day.  All our fragile, beautiful, and unique lives.  

May it be so.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever.  Amen.  


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