The author of the following essay is Wendy Cichanski Caduff. She is a pastoral candidate and a campus minister at Christ Church Newman Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota.A stroll through a cemetery always reminds me how fleeting this life is. I read the names of those who have gone before me that have been etched in stone and then do the math to figure out how long they lived. I marvel at some of the markers going back to the 1800s, feel sadness at the short lives of others, and quietly hope they all knew some measure of happiness. I wonder: What was their life like? What did they live for? In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks us what we could give in exchange for our lives. There are some words of warning: we must take care not to trade our lives for the things of this world or live our lives being ashamed of Christ. But there are also words of advice here, with Jesus teaching us clearly that discipleship involves denying of the self, taking up the cross, and following him. With Lent looming just ahead, we will begin our annual journey toward the cross. Honestly, I’m not always sure what it means for me to take up my cross. I think the expression can be misused whenever something difficult comes into our life. But I am learning more about the process of denying the self. It seems that the whole of the spiritual journey involves a giving away of the self. Day by day, in almost every situation, we have the opportunity to put others before ourselves. My selfish self resists that. But in the slow process of maturing and growing toward wholeness, I am learning to give my life away. How are you giving away yours?