WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Worthy of Love

By Rebekah Savage

“Die before you die.” / موتوا قبل أن تموتوا
—regarded by Sufis as a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad

When I first heard of this spiritual teaching from the Sufis, I was miffed. What sense did that make: "Die before you die"? I thought about all of the suffering in the world. A teaching that emphasized more of the loss and grief of death just didn’t make sense.

Then I fell in love with someone who made the world come alive. They brought magic and wonder to the way I beheld the world; I believed in myself and the infinite possibilities of a transformative love. They sent me flowers, wrote love poems, and showered me with words of affirmation and adoration. I was so far gone for them.… far, far out there in love.

Die before you die.
What died first was the crumbling of the fantasy they projected into the world of what we could be as a family.

Die before you die.
What died next was their word, their integrity, their cherishing of us.

Die before you die.
What died next was their respect for my body, for my voice, for my words of patience and acceptance.

Die before you die.
What died next was a layer of my own self-respect and a portion of my heart.

I died again and again over the course of that relationship: little deaths that coated my skin like a burnt coating — a layer of a previous life and dreams — encrusted and enfolded my heart.

Have you ever watched traditional pottery come out of a fire? The clay shape emerges from the flames, buried in burning wood and ash, and the potter has to cool and rub the clay form so that the beauty can emerge. What cooled and rubbed away the burnt coating around my heart was the hard work of spiritual self-reflection, and good old-fashioned love and acceptance from cherished friends.

Die before you die. What also had to die was my shame: my belief that I was not worthy of such love. These deaths are each precious to me as gifts along the journey — not towards a great love with someone else, but a greater love within myself as a creation of God, worthy of these gifts.

Great Mystery of Divine Love and Compassion, Bringer of Death and Transformation, inspire in me a greater strength and vulnerability: to Love and be Loved, with each salutation to the rising sun, and with each quiet prayer of gratitude at the end of the day.

About the Author

Rebekah Savage

Rev. Dr. Rebekah Savage (formerly Montgomery) is the Senior Minister at the UU Congregation of Rockville, MD; a permanent member of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee; and served previously as a military chaplain and a Licensed Professional Counselor....


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In a kiln, a red glow of fire holds the shape of a ceramic pot.

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