Thursday, January 22, 2015


- At the Desert Retreat House -

This morning I was saddened to hear of the death of Marcus Borg -a well published scholar of religion who changed the lives of many people by his plain-spoken teachings about Jesus, the Bible, the nature of faith and, more recently, the relationship between Jesus and the Buddha. I was lucky enough to personally know Professor Borg and had several occasions to be with him and, at times to seek his counsel and advice. 

After hearing of Marcus' death this morning, I went online and read some of his more recent blog posts - one in particular, was very striking to me, an article about "facing death." I realized that I am continuing to benefit from the wisdom of this very wise man:

Procrastination: living as if we have an indefinite amount of time and therefore can put off 'really living' until some future time. A vivid awareness of one's own death, its certainty and uncertainty, can end procrastination and impel us into the present- to live each day as if it were the last and yet also the first in a life that may have many years left.

The earnest awareness of our own death is the master teacher, teaching us how to live. Without it, we risk frittering our lives away.

I find so much wisdom and truth in these few little sentences. Of course we all know that we will ultimately die some day and yet we often act as if the day will never come. Somehow we sweep the ultimate reality of death under the carpet of our everyday existence- people don't want to think about dying, it is frightening and macabre to many.  Even older people imagine that they have plenty of time left to do the things they want to do in life until it's all over.  

But the truth is that, tomorrow never comes for any of us - all we ever have is today, now, this day, this moment in which to live our lives as fully alive as we possibly can. 

I am reminded of a wisdom "saying" from teachings of the 4th century Desert Mothers and Fathers:

An old monk once said,
'If you lose gold or silver, you can find something as good as you lost.
But the one who loses time can never make up what was lost.'

Marcus Borg was the kind of guy who didn't "lose time." He embraced the moment, and lived fully alive, touching the minds and hearts of many. I hope to do the same in my life. 

Today I am vividly aware of death- not a vague concept but a certain reality. Death is indeed the master teacher, and there is nothing like this awareness to put an end to procrastination.

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