The passages of our life call for recognition; they are an invitation to reflection, and opportunity for conscious change often overlooked in our modern world. Birth, entering into intimacy, illness, loss of loved ones, dying all lead us to our most vulnerable self. Regardless of background, faith, ethnicity, or belief system, we are all subject to the challenges that accompany change.

Wherever we are in our life cycle, when in the midst of transition we may feel like travelers without a map or compass. While traditional cultures provide ceremonial initiations and guidance, many of us today feel bereft of such grounding elements. Without spiritual direction or mentoring, we are left to our own devices to find meaning in the chaos that transition often stirs up.

Of all the transitions we pass through, the death of our physical body is often the most frightening, perhaps because what lies beyond is so mysterious and unknown. As the young man quoted above so wisely understood, we can prepare for our death as we traverse the innumerable “little death,” the losses and transitions we face throughout our lives.

As we feel deeply met in our transitions, we in turn develop our capacity to meet others during their challenging times.