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Learning to Die & Live – Jeff Blake

April 6, 2018

My friend Jeff Blake is in Hospice Care. Even though he has been fighting cancer for some time now, it suddenly hit viciously this past week. Right now I am reading his Daily Devotional Book, A Year on Grace Street: Daily Signposts.

In the first few days of April he is contemplating life and death. I find it somehow comforting and appropriate that I am visiting this particular chapter while Jeff is in Hospice Care and approaching his meeting with our Sister Bodily Death, to quote St Francis of Assisi in his Canticle of the Sun. While Denise and I were on a quick trip to Santa Fe, Jeff and I were talking via Facebook Messenger. He was curious about the holy places to visit and so I ended up sending him pictures which he took note of when he made his own Pilgrimage to Santa Fe and the Southwest a few weeks later. The above picture is from the outdoor Stations of the Cross at the Cathedral Church of St Francis. It is the final station where Jesus was laid in the tomb. Jeff was able to walk/pray the stations and he said it was beautiful.

Now, as he prepares to make the transition from this world to the next, I can imagine him in prayer greeting our Sister Bodily Death not with apprehension but rather with a sense of awe and expectancy. I want to share these few sentences from Grace Street with you as I also pray with my brother.

April 1: Sometimes I still play the old records like I’m not enough and I need to do something to make myself worthy and surely there are four easy steps to the promised land when really it’s a lifelong process of learning to die and live.

April 2: Where am I? …I’m with a verse from Micah and in fact I’ve been there quite a number of years though and I’m still learning how to shake out the wrinkles and live it out. For me it’s about doing justice in a terribly unjust world where people are beat down, showing mercy to myself and others, and being given some much needed humility in what’s not a sprint but a slow and deliberate walk all the way home.

April 3: I do not think the talk of death is a morbid thing. To dwell incessantly on it would be a different matter–unhealthy, I think. All I can do is get up in the morning with gratitude in my heart for another day, another moment.

Thank you, my precious Brother, for teaching so many of us how to live and love and simply be on Grace Street. And now, as you approach the end of this earthly journey, embrace the love and the grace of our Lord ❤️ I am walking with you as best I can.

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