We have all heard this idea that we are either growing or dying. We hear if people are learning a new skill or if they are becoming a “better” person then they are “growing”. We also hear that organizations that rake in profits or create social change are “growing.” If there is a restaurant that has a line out the door then that restaurant is “growing” in their market.
Conversely, people who are getting older or have stopped learning are thought of as “dying.” Organizations that are not expanding then they are “dying.” Businesses that no longer have that line around the block are “dying.”
Because you are either growing or dying.
The Truth is, nothing is growing OR dying. Everything is growing AND dying at the same time.
Every person, regardless of age or stage, is growing and dying at the same time. The one who is learning a lot may be growing intellectually but they also are experiencing a death of previously understood ideas. The organization that is growing in numbers is also dying to previous ways of doing things. The business that is growing in market share is also dying to the intimacy they had.
Philosophers such as Hannah Arendt describe a “natality.” In addition to how philosophers speak of natalities, we may begin to think of natality as the other side of fatality. Where fatality is about dying, natality is about birth. For every fatality there is a simultaneous natality and for every natality there is a simultaneous fatality.
The question is not are you growing or dying but how are you growing AND dying.
The Church is beginning to embrace the very message that she has proclaimed for 2000 years in that the Church is not dying. It is dying and being born. It is declining and growing. It is contracting and expanding.