A poetic portrait of faith, futility, and the joy of this mortal life.
In this astoundingly unique book, best-selling author N.D. Wilson reminds each of us that to truly live we must recognize that we are dying. Every second we create more of our pastâ€”more decisions, more breathing, more love, and more loathing. All of it slides by into the gone as we race to grab at more moments, at more memories made and already fading.
We are all authors, creators of our own pasts, of the books that will be our lives. We stare at the future or obsess about the present, but only the past has been set in stone, and we are the ones setting it. When we race across the wet concrete of time without purpose, without goals, without laughter and love and sacrifice, then we fail in our mortal moment. We race toward our inevitable ends without artistry and without beauty.
All of us must pause and breathe. See the past, see your life as the fruit of providence and thousands of personal narratives. What led to you? You did not choose where to set your feet in time. You choose where to set them next.
Then we must see the future, not just to stare into the fog of distant years but to see the crystal choices as they race toward us in this sharp foreground we call the present. We stand in the now. God says create. Live. Choose. Shape the past. Etch your life in stone, and what you make will be forever.
When I first read N.D. Wilson’s children’s book, 100 Cupboards, I added him to my list of favorite authors.Â In this non-fiction work, following on the heels and thoughts of Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl, I found myself once again swept away by the power of Wilson’s writing.
For those among us who eschew the abstract and would choose chess over poetry this book might be an exercise in frustration.Â But the artists and mystics, those whose imaginations take flight on the wings of a well crafted phrase, will no doubt find this book to be a gift and perhaps even a prayer.
I found myself moved to tears, laughing out loud and laying on my face before the throne of God as I wandered the pages of this book.Â And I thought that the best way that I could give you a glimpse into Death by Living is to share with you a “Found Poem” – words I’ve pieced together from words that Wilson penned.
A Found Poem from N.D. Wilson’s Death By Living
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Is it a waste to grasp at moments?
To try to catch the wind between my forefinger and my thumb?
The music of the world
To glimpse the transcendent in the simple
And the simple in the transcendent
To shiver with awe
At the sight of a child studying foot-pounded dust,
while twisting slowly in the air above it,
head and shoulders through a tire swing
To stare for an hour
At the still, black surface of a lake
To marvel at the invention of water
And my need to swallow it
And ride it
Every rock is spoken by the Word
Every time I touch a stone
I am touching the Voice of God
Every cell of me is crafted by that artistry
My life is in His breath
But we mortals grow numb
We want to feel more
Make us all Lazarus
And even though
I have never felt further from Him than in this place
How I feel is irrelevant
He is here,
and His image is in me,
and in her â€“
When the snow flies in the headlights like stars at warp speed
When we stand next to danger we cannot control
And feel its hot breath on our necks
When steam comes off its sides
And we can do nothing
but hang onto the wild mustang
We are no more or less in Godâ€™s hands than we have ever been.
God is a God of galaxies
Of roaring seas
And boiling thunder
But He is also the God of bread baking
Of a childâ€™s smile
Of dust motes in the sun
He is who He is, and always shall be.
Look around you now
Can you see time flowing past your edges?
Donâ€™t resent the moments
they cannot be frozen
Give thanks for that daily bread
Manna doesnâ€™t keep overnight
More will come in the morning
By His grace
We are the water made wine
We are the dust made flesh
Made dust made flesh again
We are the whores made brides
And the thieves made saints
And the killers made apostles
We are the dead made living