“Do you remember being old?”

“Oh, yes. I had a cane!”

Easter one day will be like Christmas.

A memento mori is a reminder of death. The medieval formalized it. Memento mori is their term. They had a cottage industry of little ways of reminding themselves that they were mortal. Stacked skulls, paintings of dancing skeletons, and even a genre of poetry called the Ubi Sunt. Ubi sunt means ‘where are’. “Where are the snows of yesteryear?” Answer: gone.

For us, the memento moris are those unplanned reminders that life is fleeting.

The days are not long enough

And the nights are not long enough

And life passes us by, silently,

Like a field mouse in the grass.

-thus Ezra Pound

I just had a memento mori. An older sister bore her testimony. She apologized for not coming forward in a long time. Because of vanity, she said. She didn’t want the ward to see her hobbling up with her cane. She then shook her finger at the congregation and said, “you’ll grow old too!”

A new deacon bore his testimony. It was brief. “I know that Jesus will let me see my grandma again, amen.”

The next sister said she was glad she won the battle with the bed in time to make it to church. She then opened her heart about each of her loved ones that died last year. Her mother-in-law. Her aunt. Her dad-“he made Christmas magic,” she said, and broke down crying.

I was forced to think of my own mortality, and the mortality of all those I love.

You can remember death with dread and sadness. You can remember it with a kind of spiritual sobering effect that is like holiness. Usually you remember it with a mix of both.

But one day the reminder that we will die, will die. Death will have been a passing phase we all went through. The memento mori will only be the literal memory of dying. It is only natural to stay up all night nervous before some big new thing. A job interview, a performance, a solider’s first action. Afterwards, the fear is gone. You’ve seen the elephant. Mortality is something like one long sleepless night. Next day, in heaven, we will all have seen the elephant.

One day Easter will be like Christmas. We will be looking back, celebrating when Christ entered our sphere.

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