NewbornI was reminded recently of the two absolutes of life: Birth and Death. In order to have life, there must first be a birth, and then, eventually, a death. Both of these events cause a great disturbance in the lives of those near and dear, and through that disturbance, great changes are effected in the lives of those closest. In just the past month, I’ve heard of the birth of three babies (three separate co-workers of mine all became grandmothers this month), and the death of a dear friend’s uncle, who was more like a father than an uncle. In all these instances, the lives of those people were forever changed – as they should be. As always with me, it got me thinking about it all; these polar opposites of the same thing.

But how will these events forever change our lives? Will it be a positive change, or a negative change? Will we accept it as a Grace of God, or a curse of man? Some births are easy and uneventful; some are fraught with issues and dangers from the moment of conception. Some deaths are tragic and sudden, others are slow and peaceful.

As Christians, we profess “the life of the world to come,” a phrase Catholics utter every Sunday during the Mass. We proclaim that we believe this, yet so many of us – when faced with its reality – shrink back from that threshold in cold dread and fear. Is it because we don’t truly believe? No, not always. Is it because we don’t know what to expect? More likely, yes. We’re creatures of habit and are always afraid of what we don’t know, what we can’t see – we’re afraid of the dark, afraid of the boogeyman, afraid of walking past a cemetery. We grew up with it as children, learned it in stories and movies, and kept those fears in our adulthood.

We experience those births and deaths as opposites, yet they are actually the same. They are not a beginning and an end, except for how we perceive them in this life. When we die here, are we not born on the other side? We weep in sorrow at the death of our loved ones; yet would not the Saints be weeping for joy that another soul has come home? We cry with joy that a baby is born into this world; but wouldn’t the Saints weep that another Breath of God comes into this world?

And so, with the births and the deaths this month, the cycle continues.