It was a few days before the beginning of Lent when I spotted the tree, a valley oak standing at the trailhead. I was on retreat at the Bishop's Ranch, a bucolic spot deep in California wine country and I had intended to take a brisk solo hike in the woods. But the old valley oak, its deadness, stopped me in my tracks.
Death is not nearly as frightening or sad as you may have heard, but you'll have to trust me on that until you get to know Death more intimately for yourself. I encourage you to strike up a friendship of your own, perhaps by volunteering at a hospice or nursing home. If you're not sure this is a good idea, here are five reasons to get comfortable with Death: