A thousand deaths
In the East, at least, November is a sear month, beautiful for its bleakness. The skies hang grey and heavy, the wind gnaws and bellows. Life changes drastically from the velvet days of early autumn. The things we love begin to die right before our eyes. The roses begin to shrivel on the bush, the sun draws away, the colors around us start to darken. Then the streets get quieter and the neighbors disappear inside their houses and the days darken before the light has had time to seep through the mist of morning. The earth rests.
It is a time of great life learning: We learn that we cannot control the passage of time in life. We learn to accept each of the stages of life with serenity. We learn to look to new moments in life with hope rather than despair. We learn that the opposite of life is not death; it is fear. We learn to see death as a necessary part of life.
The Rule of Benedict is a November document. It teaches us to practice serenity, to accept what is, to let go of unnecessary things, to “keep death always before our eyes,” not so that we become morbid but so that we can come to see the value and the promise of every new moment. It is only when we forget death that we can delude ourselves into believing that what is must always be. Death, on the other hand, is proof that the God of Surprises has new things waiting for us always and that every new moment is a gift of new life.
—from A Monastery Almanac by Joan Chittister (Benetvision)