Playdates with God: On Dying and Being Reborn

The day before my birthday I write my eulogy.
It’s one of the homework assignments for the Lay Pastor program I am in and I’ve had a whole month to do it. But I can’t seem to enter into it so I wait until the last day before class to sit down with myself. And before my classmates sing “Happy Birthday” to me; before the cake and the musical candle…I have already died.
The class is on pastoral care and it is taught by a husband and wife team, she—on faculty at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminaryand a licensed marriage and family counselor, he—a chaplain at a psychiatric hospital. They talkto us about listening and presence and how chickens are like people. It’s the most amazing class and these two teachers—in the way they care for each other and us all weekend long—they show us what pastoral care really is.
But it’s when we complain about the eulogy that everything that has been churning and roiling all falls calm.
It’s hard to companion someone in something where you yourself are unwilling to go, he says.
And I know he is right.
We go around the room and read our eulogies. We die together. We weep.
And we are reborn.
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

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Sharing with L.L. Barkat today also: 

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  1. says

    That must have been so moving, to hear each other’s eulogy.

    What a striking truth is, “It’s hard to companion someone in something where you yourself are unwilling to go.”

  2. says

    Wow! You got to experience your own funeral, the day before your birthday. Quite the present. I can’t imagine how powerful this exercise must have been. I think that I would be tempted to live a little more fully for God if I were to write my own eulogy…so that I could live what matters a little more often.

  3. says

    Sounds like an insightful exercise.

    One of my nephews has built his own coffin, which is currently being used as a book shelf in his living room.

    He says that planning and building his own coffin was one of the healthiest times of reflection he’s experienced.

  4. says

    And now you have me thinking about what I’d write…
    I have the songs picked out.
    But it does bring about a heavy–
    To really reflect on what I’d want to be able to truthfully say.
    I see a whole lot of wisdom behind this assignment…though it scares me a bit to think of actually writing it.

  5. says

    Are you in Louisville? That’s my hometown:)It makes me wonder if our eulogy is the same eulogy our children would write. In retrospect, I bet it helped celebrate your birthday even more!

  6. says

    This is amazing to think about. I’m with Maureen on the striking truth: “It’s hard to companion someone in something where you yourself are unwilling to go.”

    I’ll be thinking about that today.

    And I suppose it would be cheating to write, “No eulogy. Just go and enjoy really good coffee. And a single malt, if that’s your fancy.”

    I’ve thought about the songs, but never the words. And I’m such a word person.

  7. says

    What an exercise. I remember sitting and listening at a funeral for a beloved elderly lady I’d known, and thinking how important it would be to consider what would be said at my own funeral. Even just today I read an article about how Margaret Thatcher said she wouldn’t have chosen her career direction had she known how it would affect her family. So much to consider as we journey here. I guess the important thing is to face it consciously, aware.
    As hard as that was, both the writing and the listening in community, I’m sure it was powerful. Happy Birthday to you~and many more, too. God is writing a beautiful story in and through you. As much as I adore your writing now, I know His way of telling it will be even more amazing.

  8. says

    That is such an interesting exercise, to write your own eulogy… how meaningful that then, after reading them together in your class, you were all reborn; especially during this season.

  9. says

    Awesome post! Very moving, and convicting to imagine what could and could not be said about our own life. How sad it would be to fgace that moment with regret over not having given Him our all.

  10. says

    I’ll admit, that even after 20 years as a nurse, I still find it very difficult to deal with death and dying. My therapist was a grief counselor at a local hospital, and I marvel at the ease he deals with this.

    Such an interesting exercise – much food for thought.

  11. says

    I think of the movie, “Get Low,” where Robert Duvall wants a funeral given in his honor — before he’s dead. In some ways, he just wanted a single good word said on his behalf.
    Ultimately, it’s more “Was my life worthwhile? Did I make a difference?”

  12. says

    Interesting. I’ve actually given some thought to my own funeral. I know what song I want my rock star diva girlfriend to sing (which is how I knew she was going to survive breast cancer and is going to outlive me). I wrote my dad’s eulogy and considered that an honor and a gift. I think I’d probably be too ridiculous about writing my own. I don’t know. I’ll think about it.

  13. says

    That would be a challenging assignment…probably one everyone should do…asking ourselves…what do we want to be left of us…blesssings~

  14. says

    The same truth that struck Maureen strikes me. That said, I would have been complaining about that assignment, too. Like Kara, selecting music would be no problem.

    A belated happy birthday to you! May no one need your eulogy for many years to come.

  15. says

    Happy (belated?) birthday! It sounds like it has been a rich experience…so true what your teacher said…the courage to companion and to make that journey ourselves…So grateful for you, Laura 🙂

  16. says

    “It’s hard to companion someone in something where you yourself are unwilling to go, he says.”

    This must be one of the best pieces of ministry advice I’ve ever read. Thank you for it.

  17. says

    I think that would be one of the most difficult and most rewarding practices to do. Oh my! I can imagine the tears around the table. And thanks for filling me in on what you do with your days. I am awe that you even find the time to write at all or take a run for that matter. This new knowledge about you sheds a whole new light on how gifted you are and the ways God is using you.

  18. says

    Oh, wow, I wonder if I could do this. This is just beautiful, Laura — and to always live in that truth that yes, this day, I am reborn! Thank you — and I hope you had a beautiful birthday!

  19. says

    My Grandmother use to say, “Get rid of self.” I never understood until I got older. Die to self and Live unto the Lord. Let Jesus live in me and crucify the flesh.

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