Participation 3: Life
What’s got you half-dead?
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Transcript of Video:
One of those stories in John’s gospel which has always captivated me is the story of the raising of Lazarus. This extraordinary moment where Jesus walks up to the tomb and speaks those words, “Lazarus come out,” and Lazarus begins to move. There is a wonderful sculpture of the raising of Lazarus. I believe it’s in the Chapel of New College in Oxford by Jacob Epstein. What I love about it is that there is Lazarus coming out of the tomb but only half of him is coming out and the other half is still in the tomb and you get this sense that he’s not sure that he wants to come out because there’s something comfortable about the familiar even if you’re half dead. And I think that Jesus is calling us to new life and we have to say yes even though new life often can be rather fearful because it’s unknown. But I don’t believe that Jesus will ever leave us in a place where we are not fully alive. I think he’s constantly calling us everyday to become more alive because the more we become, the more I become the Jeffrey that God created me to be, the more I glorify God. And I would say the gospel of John another wonderful theme is the theme of glory that, “Where Jesus is there the glory of God shines forth and that we are meant to shine forth with that same glory as well by becoming fully alive in Christ.”
– Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Fear makes me half dead. Fear of the unknown , fear of hurting someone and fear not living up to expectations. As a nurse I care for people every day and at the end of the day I ask who is there to care for me?
My busy-ness has got me half dead. I need to get to a place where I can sit in peace without the guilt of not doing. Not working for my clients, my family or myself and just live for Joy, for God, for Life. I spend so much time running from one project to the next, one assignment to the next, one obligation to the next that I forget to breathe. I count my blessings and pray in my car while driving to my next important “thing” and don’t create time for the important Things in life.
I think my greediness; wanting to “do it all” extracts a cost that makes me feel half-dead. I become exhausted and physically ill from not making time to renew spiritually or physically, as in sleeping. Such, “overdoing” leaves my cup empty, void of a sense of peace or having enough of me to go around. Illness is a time of physical healing, and withdrawl from the world/activities, to reset my priorities and strive for balance. With me, it seems to be a cycle.
Being half dead for me is not being able to die enough to the world. The more I can die to the world, the more I can be a more mature Christian. This is my daily quest and sometimes I am more than half dead, other times quite a bit less
I think my greatest obstacle in life is being successful living in the world. I’ve never made much money and I barely survive. I should have a “nest egg” and I don’t. I never cared to be rich; but have wanted to make a decent living. It seems that I am constantly blocked from making progress or advancing in a job – not appreciated for my gifts or skills offered. So I ask myself where have I failed? What’s wrong with me?
Yet when I seek God, God responds. I have had many spiritual experiences – visionary experiences – that have helped me in my spiritual quest and path.
Yes! The “world” can feel like alien territory and we wonder why we were placed here in the first place. We long to go “home” to God. We don’t “get” how we’re supposed to cope with the demands of incarnation. You are not alone in this –if that’s of any comfort.
The thought that I will be alone on earth in the future, and then I feel such sadness, and emptiness, at the same time I put my trust in Gods love. Still this fear is there>
I am 72 years old. I retired in July 2012. In February last year. I had a mental health breakdown and tried to take my life by slitting my wrist. I hit rock bottom. With the encouragement of my wife, I began seeing a MD – Psychiatrist. After a series of tests and blood analysis, he diagnosed me as being bi-polar condition and having ADHD. This is something I have had my whole life but never knew it. I am now on drugs to control my mood swings and focusing. It has a great help. I have gone through a period of self analysis of my life experiences since childhood. This has helped my understand who I am. But a greater help has been God who through his Loving Grace has given new direction and understanding of the importance Life. I truly feel born anew and blessed and each day provides me with new experiences I have never known before.
The tug of ego, which (attempts) to control us in this consumer society. Anxiety, fear, anger push us to the edge of despair ( a kind of death). Consciousness, faith, daily prayer, meditation, joy, kindness and the surety of salvation, now that is the way to LIVE
When my husband died I wanted to be buried too. It was so much work to just go on. I held on to the need to survive for my adult children’s sake, and to an earlier commitment to survive and walk a healthy path regardless of my husband’s choices and circumstances with respect to alcohol addiction. Life seemed like uphill work, and the idea of being ‘half-dead’ is a good description. Regardless of the circumstances, losing someone you’ve loved for most of your life feels as if part of your ‘self’ is missing, buried. I still grieve, and I still do the work of ‘recovering’ from co-dependency. Jesus is both comforting me, and shaking my life into new and unexpected places. A new love at 59! I can only shake my head and laugh, and say ‘yes’ to what God has wrought.
You mean other than my job, which causes me to get up at 3 am? Fear. Fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of abandonment. It is a constant challenge for me to hold in my mind the fact that I am loved by God and that there is nothing I can do that will change that fact. This is one of the reasons I am so inspired by the brother’s “words” for they give me a whole new perspective on God, myself, and our relationship.
whatever turns me away from the promise of life-abundant life,life which the worms can’t destroy, life filled with a love that is tender,wise and strong-that distraction is what brings me to the land of shadows,half dead.
My “half-dead” is when I take on a critical perspective, instead of a smile on my face and a cheerful embrace and acceptance of everything the gorgeous day has in store. New leaf, TODAY!
When I forget to really keep the Sabbath Holy and rest, I feel half dead! Too much of a good thing can be not so good! So now I’m getting better at recognizing the need to set a part time in each day to take a mini Sabbath as well as once a week. By the way, some one once told me that to truly rest one relished. I like that – so that restful time is perfect for going over all those events to be relished since the previous Sabbath time. It does give me more energy to begin again those things that need to be accomplished in ordinary time.
I always have to push myself to take a risk, when I am in an uncomfortable situation. I know now it is God pushing me out of my comfort zone, Showing & encouraging me along the way. That image of Lazurus , half in the tomb , not sure what do next. That would be me…
Fear of being hurt again, maybe being broken in ways that won’t heal. Fear of failing at whatever I try to do. Fear of not being able to earn a living. I’m praying for God’s continuing help to get over my fear or for the courage to move ahead in spite of it. I think I’m being called to come out of the tomb and build a life, hopefully one that can help others. I’ve been blessed with love and support from unexpected sources at other times it was most needed, but I’m scared anyway. It all feels so fragile.
The phrase that appears most often in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures is some equivalent of this: Don’t be scared. Sometimes it’s “Be not afraid;” sometimes it’s “Fear not.” At least once it’s “Oh, rest in the Lord.” And then, there are the assurances: God will take care of you. I wonder: why it is that we find it so difficult to live in that truth? I ask myself this question almost daily.
Maybe part it is because we’re taught fear from the start, to try to keep us safe (or sometimes mixed with abuse) — Don’t stray from the backyard, don’t even think about crossing the street, don’t talk to strangers, don’t expect much, don’t make noise, don’t speak your mind, don’t let anybody know the real you… be good and try to make people like you and don’t let them see when you’re hurt… Then news and advertisers constantly tell us we need to be afraid of everything from random violence to all sorts of personal and social inadequacies. Fear feels so familiar, it seems like the natural state. It tries to drown out God’s loving voice. Thank you, Esther, for reminding me to try to listen harder for God’s reassurances in Scripture and in life. Fear tries to rule as a god, but only God is God, and God is love. Now, if I can just hold onto that while praying for the courage to venture out.
I am so impressed with the question and the honesty of the ansers. As I read through them I just kept saying Yes ,Yes,Yes that’s me. Thank you all.
I can be judgemental. In fact, I am focusing on giving it up for Lent! I would rather try to establish a new, life-giving habit during Lent than deny myself something I’ll return to come Easter. I can relate to the image of Lazarus struggling with the grave cloths as he emerges. That’s what it feels like sometimes, struggling to come into the freedom into which Jesus calls us.
So many answers have so eloquently address the question proposed today…. I identify with so many of the comments posted here… In virtually every one I was able to see a challenge or fear I have faced and yet, heretofore, had been unable to name or point out. I pray for those whose health is poor, who find themselves in professional hiatus, or are, otherwise, challenged by relationship, material, or physical trials.
Brilliant as it is, today’s question did not strike me as powerfully as the assertion: “the more I become the Geoffrey that God created me to be”. How do I wish I knew a) the Marcos God created me to be and b) how to be that man. I wish I could see myself through God’s eyes and understand myself (and my path) through his mind…..
Fear is very real. So is regret from realizing that I’ll never get to do many of the things I wanted to do in life.
My devotional booklet yesterday spoke of Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel on being told she is to bear the Savior. Her response did not include any reservations about what would happen to her. I think what makes me half-dead is when God leads or speaks to me, my response includes the “What’s in it for me” factor.
How do you move out of the grave and yet this is what I have been hearing Him say for more than a month so this message REALLY touches me. I am starting to think at the invitation of life I get a split second to decide whether to grab it or not. Just a split second to put aside fear and just trust , otherwise that moment is gone. But He is gracious and before long He gives me another – O to be conscious of that invitation and just let go of all! I think maybe as an earlier message about love said, it’s ultimately a decision. You are brave people – thank you , today for sharing.
I was “half-dead” for many, many years, mostly from fear and from self-doubt. God has used the writings of Richard Rohr, a practice of daily offices and contemplative prayer, spiritual direction and psychotherapy, and the grace of a 12-step program to cause me to “fall upwards” to the second half of life — at age 53! And life has never been so good!
What makes me half dead? Fear that I will not live up to what I believe God wants me to be. Fear that I will fall short of being all God has planned for me because of my fear. I need to open my heart to God and Let God be my guide in all things without fearing where God is leading me.
Although not so true for me anymore, I lived “half-dead” for more than 50 years because of fear. Fear of anything new, fear of change, fear of everything. I have since said yes to life, and everything is different.
My negative judgementalism — putting people or situations into “boxes or categories” — leaves me half-dead because I am shutting myself off to seeing the individual (or the situation) in a new way, a more life-giving way.
My attachment to worldly things, the desire to be loved by more than just God (“just God” . . . imagine having written such a thing!) and deep vanity keep me half dead. I am afraid to let go altogether, and I spend way too much energy working to control everything I can touch, and give not nearly enough attention to the invitations that are presented in each day. Someone already said it . . . I take more than I give, I fear.
Only half dead though . . . half fully alive in the Lord too, trying to respond to the call, yearning to let go and run to him, but so uncertain. Enjoying the great glimpses of glory that this Lenten meditation continues to give.
This is a great lesson. Most of us do not like change, moving from our comfort zone, or going into the “unknown”. But that is exactly what God wants us to do. I am retired and do not have to do anything. However, God wants me to be active both physically and mentally. Some days I’m more active than others but I try to be active every day by exercising or reading, or working on my computer or volunteering or just doing one of the many activities that are available.
Feeling tired, procrastinating, when I need to organize my life, do my taxes (for instance), exercise. It is so easy to do the things I like, so hard to do the things I must. Yet that keeps me from living fully.
Constant self-punishment for lack of achievement and feeling of failure, especially with my current job coming to and end, makes me feel dead. Inability to forgive myself or others who have wronged me also. Equating how much I succeed or how much I earn with my value as a person.
Been there too. Will pray for you, and ask your prayers for me.
You certainly touched on exactly how I feel. I think a big part of being a man is identifying with “what you do”. thanks for your prayers. I’ll pray for you, too.
My renovation work on a basement room for eventual use as a ‘spa’ room (it will have a 7×7-foot water well) is exhausting me physically. However, I know God is guiding me through this, and when the room is complete, it will give my wife and myself many hours of rest and relaxation.
not having the courage to break out of a marriage I’ve ruined because of guilt, fear and lack of money has made me half a person, half dead for so long. Jesus, call me from the grave, I beg you.
Oh, my dear, take heart! Love calls.
That is such a wonderful response Marianne.
Depression. But this series and the book The Chemistry of Joy are helping!
My career coming to a sudden end is making me feel half-dead. I lost a great job due to downsizing 4 1/2 years ago. Since then, I’ve only been able to get hired by small firms run by unethical people who have used me to complete a single assignment then let me go. I’ve had 6 jobs in 4 years, each one worse than the last. Some of them haven’t even paid me for hours worked. If I had sufficient savings I would retire, but I’ve had to tap into savings to pay the bills between jobs.
I know how difficult a walk you are currently walking. I remember the day my husband was walked out to the car the day he was restructured from a job he loved. I can remember when someone said they were sorry he lost his job he would reply that he didn’t lose it – it was taken from him. I watched his pain as he applied for other jobs. Like you he got contract jobs but no company we could find would hire him as at this time he was 50. Financially I have learned it was easier going up than it was coming down. I have learned to let go and let God. (most of the time). The experience has forced me to keep God at the centre of my life because without His strength there were many days I would not have gotten through. His strength has kept me more alive than dead. I will add you to my prayers.
Thank you. god Bless you and your husband.
I also had my job taken from me at the age of 55. I know the feeling of despair and uselessness. Unfortunately, I was not supported by my spouse and our marriage ended. The support I receive from my church family has helped me beyond words. I thank God everyday for those wonderful people. God is what keeps me going.
I pray for you CF that some good opportunity will come your way; some job which will be long lasting and satisfying. Which won’t feel like work, but something you are doing because you enjoy it so much G
I think that self-absorption has me half dead. I am so busy living MY life, that I don’t notice the lives of others, and what they need. I take far more than I give.
These are the best comments of all Lent for me. Thanks everyone for voicing what I am feeling.
I so identify who I am with what I do. When I am not “doing” I am half dead… It is a conundrum as I am God’s beloved child created unique and yet as fully human (along with everyone else). When I describe myself it is very often put in the context of what I do or what I have accomplished and yet when asked, have you done this… I cannot think of a single example… I am simply who I am… So, I will continue to journal and pray and find tremendous value in myself simple that I am… not who I am supposed to be by doing… Peace
When I was diagnosed with terminal cancer at a relatively young age, I shocked my loved ones with the response, “Well, okay.” It was less responsibility to be dead than alive. It was a relief to lay aside the battle. Sounds like the parable of the talents, doesn’t it? I am ashamed.
My family, friends and colleagues whipped up a fierce storm of prayer and presence. That was almost five years ago. I am smarter now (sort of) and when I catch myself carrying my blanket and pillow to the tomb, I laugh.
Leslie, thank you for sharing this. The image of “when I catch myself carrying my blanket and pillow to the tomb, I laugh” is so powerful and so full of life! I’ll carry that image, that intention, deeply in my heart and try to do the same. You are, and will be, in my thoughts and prayers.
Ditto….do I have your permission to use that phrase in my Easter sermon?
“when I catch myself carrying my pillow and blanket to the tomb….love it!”
Thank you for the time and attention you have put into this Lenten experience. Everyday I find myself wrestling with the richness and the depth of these questions and each day I also say ” this is the best question ever…” and it is. Today reminds me of the question Jesus asked the paralytic man at the pool of Siloam….” do you want to be healed?” since he seemingly had an excuse everyday about why it wasn’t happening….the tension for me in this place is always what does it mean for me as Augustine once said to ” work as if it all depended upon me and pray as if it all depended upon God.” I could name a thousand things that leave me feeling half dead….it depends on the day….suffice it to say that above all else it is my insistence that I ” can do all things through self that strengthens me instead of I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me….” I keep thinking I dont need any help to get out of the tomb…..it is a spiritual arrogance that is unsettling as it should be but somehow for me there is shame in accepting a hand through the threshold into life as if the life gained is less valuable because I didn’t earn it myself. Ignatius once wrote that sometimes you have to “pray to want to want to do something…..” I will be praying to both recognize help when it comes and want to want to take it with a glad and joyful heart recognizing the gift that it is…..For those of you who have opened your hearts this day and are struggling to live in the Spirit of the Resurrection instead of the Spirit of the Tomb be assured of my prayers in your darkness. It takes courage to say these things outloud if only to ourselves. Thank you for modeling it.
being diagnosed with a terminal illness can make you feel half dead. But God gives new life even as we are dying –and we are all dying. Day by day we discover that whatever we lose makes room for something new, something that we would never have experienced if we had remained as we were. This is also true for the death of a marriage.
Looking for a job in a new city has me half dead…fearful and wanting to stay buried at home sort of in a cocoon. But I know that He is watching over me and urging me to break out and move forward. Remembering if I am half dead I am also half alive and that is half the battle.
Well-established habits keep me half-dead. Some of them I am conscious of, other I am not. I am acutely aware of the courage, the safe space and time required to live “fully alive.” I am glad the sun comes up each morning, promising a new day – a new opportunity to explore that which cultivates life and that which keeps me from “rising” as depicted by the sculpture. Wonderful imagery, I appreciate the interdisciplinary approach to this topic, masterfully weaving spirituality with art.
Lorna related a similar experience to mine.
Watching and listening to the news makes me feel half-dead and very helpless. Current events are almost always grim. I try to find some positive stories and people I can admire. That helps. I try to connect with people around me every day. That helps. I pray which always brings on thankfulness. That helps a lot.
So true- sometimes I quit watching or reading the negative news- much better to do something positive- pray, walk and appreciate God’s glory, help someone.
I felt half-dead when I retired and physical limitations kept from doing many of the things I once did. After some wallowing in self pity, I dusted myself off and asked God to help me out of the gloom. I make myself ask for rides and have put discipline back in my life (Lent helps with this) and the result is feeling fully alive in Christ again. I definitely agree that there is a comfort in complacency (being half-dead) but the joy of a life in Christ is so much more comfortable.
Those who got up earlier have said what I would have said & said it better. Thank you.
My inability to follow through with actions that I know will bring be fully alive. That comes from fear, self-doubt, and distraction.
As I remain focused on the glory of God seen through Jesus, I can be willing to become fully alive.
What has me half dead is the time I waste worrying and thinking about things that I have no control over and not taking care of the things God has put in front of me to deal with. Here is my prayer- Dear Lord- please remind me of all the good in my life and push me in the right direction to do your will…. Thanks to God. Amen.
Well said Betty, and I relate well to the annoying and negative pattern of entertaining thoughts and feelings about things over which I have no control – thus avoiding responsibility for those things which I am actually called to do. Ah well, honesty with God and myself is my first step. Willingness to move out of that place is my second step. To God in prayer is my third step, and the Serenity prayer is a good one –
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can – and wisdom to know the difference.
I have often felt the tension between feeling comfortable where I am in life and not wanting to move to where God is calling me. The term of Friedrich Von Hugel ‘divinely intended tension’ has resonated with me since I first read it. God does call me into new life which I often do not find comfortable but if I follow that call it is eminently beneficial and part of the journey to become the person GOd intends me to be.
Play-lessness. Depression. Family addicts not working their program. Jesus shouts, “Come out.”
I really don’t feel half dead. This is one of the best times in my life! There some problems in the family, but they do not take away from the gift of new life I experience each day. For this I am grateful.
What an felicitous question for this morning! I woke up (after eight hours of sleep) feeling tired and depressed. I have an arthritic right hip awaiting replacement. Doing strengthening exercises I seem to have pulled something in my left leg. I can’t walk properly. Will go to exercise class this morning? Or should I stay home because of my leg problems. Also, it is still cold and frozen out, so no gardening is possible, not that I’d be very able to do it anyway, but at least there would be spring bulbs to look at. Goodness what a “poor poor me’ rant this is. I must admit sometimes it is just nice to be able to admit to a bad mood. It is so hard to be brave, unselfish, cheerful, energetic and thankful all the time. I can totally understand the Lazarus in the sculpture you mentioned: I’d just like to crawl back into bed. There. Now I feel somewhat better. I may head off for exercise class after all. Thank you for this opportunity to admit to, and even, dare I say, to revel in imperfection.
I suppose on some days, if I would allow it, my spiritual responsibilities as a Chaplain. To daily administer to many patients God’s blessing and comfort. But I then realize that this also keeps me more than half alive! And transfers this feeling to the patient, I hope, as well. So, I guess, half dead, is a none-issue for me.
When I am not present in the moment it is like being half-or even fully dead. I frequently find myself ruminating on the past or planning the future (which has to happen sometimes). When I am removed from the present moment, it is like being half dead because the present moment is really the only moment that exists!
Very insightful Chris. I would echo your views here. I find that truly listening to others takes me out of myself and helps me stay in the moment.
agreed.. Often the entry into full life is filled with minor obstructions which keep me from seeing how very full the life God gives us can be. I know that Jesus is pointing the way, but find His Light to be fogged over by my focus on petty detail, and the feeling that others’ needs and expectations are so immediate and my need for private time with my soul’s concerns must come later.. What comfort it is to know that God is patient and His glory abounds.
The fear of change keeps me in the established, comfortable place in my life. Making any major change requires courage, faith, and full participation in life.
So true, Jeri!
I’d say that I’m half-dead when I let the worries of life become my focus rather than the joys. What going wrong becomes more important than what’s going right.
At 65 years of age, I certainly don’t like the thought of being ‘half dead’. Yet, I get that way when I fail to act on daily priorities either because I would rather worry about them, wallow in them or procrastinate. The same is true when I separate myself from God; fail to listen to the Spirit or fail to act in, and with love.
Today, many we heed the Spirit’s call to rise up and act with love.
Procrastination. That’s what keeps me half dead.
Me too. I even procrastinated answering this question of the day, and now it is so late that I am too tired to think of my own response. Thus I am grateful to be able to say simply “me too” and let it be without wallowing or whining. https://www.norbertines.org/homilies_04-16-08_rossey.html
I feel suppressed on those days would work, home, everything in between, just a list of tasks and checkboxes ticked. Prayer becomes another thing to be done.
Just at the moment, there aren’t many of those days. But when they come, I need to pause and refocus on what is important in my life.
Doing stuff for stuff’s sake holds me back in the land of the dead.
Not having enough faith to trust that God knows what he is doing, & that I must believe in his work in me, so that He can fully realise his purpose.
I agree, Charlotte, self-doubt leaves me half dead, in fact just today I started to doubt a commitment I made two weeks ago that would lead me down a new path in life, and I started to make excuses as to why I could not move forward. After this morning’s video, I will have to just trust and move on!