Whitney, Christchurch & Lent remind us of impermanence

Whitney, Christchurch & Lent remind us of impermanence

Sande Ramage

25 February 2012

 

One year and thousands of shakes later, the earth is still moving in Christchurch where people have to live with what is rather than what they imagine could be.  
 
Hoping that life will be stable and secure if we believe certain things or act in particular ways is a popular pastime but it's just not like that.  Not even for people as rich, talented and gorgeous as Whitney Houston.  Ongoing trauma can dog you to death.
 
Whitney's deep vulnerability prompted constant uncertainty about whether she was good enough.  It was, said Kevin Costner, the inexplicable burden that made her great and what caused her to stumble in the end.   Her own internal quake that ensured the ground beneath her was in constant motion.  
 
Living with that kind of uneasiness is part of Lent, the preparation for Easter, Christianity's festival of new life.  Lent is about preparing; re-ordering space, not outer space but the inner world so that we've got enough strength and flexibility to cope with the earthquakes of life.  It's the annual spring-clean that takes 40 days to complete.  
 
There's plenty of time to review your life beginning with an Ash Wednesday reminder about our mortality.  In an ancient ritual, foreheads are signed with ash, symbolizing that our origins are in the dust and to the dust we will return.
 
These days there are no hard and fast rules about Lent and no perfect way to be.  Instead, it's an opportunity to live with what is, to accept that whatever our circumstances, there will be dark and light, highs and lows, earth breaking tremors alongside contemplative stillness, a strange combination of our internal discontent living in harmony with the sublime.
 
Christchurch and Whitney have both suffered as the earth moved beneath their feet.  Their experiences, external and internal, are reminders that life is often fluid and insubstantial, a frustrating journey of impermanence.   
 
Despite that, as my Facebook friend Kevin Clements put it this week, ' no matter how short or how long our lives we all have moments when divinity breaks through the mundane and we reveal that eternal spirit that lies within each one of us.'