Last month, I went to a funeral. The woman who died was the mother of a couple who are friends of mine. I say she was THEIR mother because even though she was Brian’s Mom, Stephi thought of her, treated her, and loved her as her own. I only got to know Jean in the past few years, but at 91 she was amazing—spiritual, kind, funny, active and interesting. She had a long life and she blessed many along the way.
At that service I sat next to someone I love. Jill reminded me of how her best friend, Linda, died when they were in sixth grade. There were so many things that would never take place, so much pain and emptiness for those who loved that little girl. Such a brief life, but I imagine that, in that short time, she blessed her small circle along the way.
My brother, Bob, died when he was forty. He was diagnosed with his first brain tumor at sixteen. He beat insurmountable odds to live that long. For the last years of his life he was wheelchair bound and living in a full-time care home. He NEVER complained about the pain. He never uttered a “why me?”. That’s incredible to me. A life that ended at an age that’s a “halfway point” for a lot of us, and I know that he blessed many along the way.
Many years ago I had three miscarriages. They were heartbreaking and I didn’t understand the “why”. I mourned those losses. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of losing a child you’ve been raising and loving. Lives that were not birthed into this world but nonetheless blessed me for the time I carried them.
The beginning of life.
The end of life.
The in-between of life.
We often live like we have all the time in the world.
I do believe we have all the time, just not in THIS world. I believe that our spirits live on. You can call it “the after life”, “life on the spirit side”, “heaven”, “the hereafter” or “the promised land”, but I believe we don’t cease to exist when our physical bodies die.
Ernest Becker was a Jewish-American anthropologist who authored The Denial of Death, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974. In that book, Becker wrote that “Society is a vehicle for earthly heroism. Man transcends death by finding meaning in his life. It is the burning desire for the creature to count. What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance”. Wow!
Before I read Becker’s words I didn’t really think about life in terms of heroism or extinction, but I do understand what he said. Most of us DO want to matter. Most of us DO want to leave our mark on the world—we want our lives to have had meaning.
Every day we’re making choices- decisions that shape the hours of that particular day. Even when we “decide not to decide” we’re making a choice. I’m pretty sure we’ve all made choices that we wish we could “take back” (I know I have). Clearly, we can’t undo the past but we can strive to BE AWARE of choices we make in the future. It’s important to decide what really matters to you and then honor that. If it’s the latest designer fashions, so be it (and truly enjoy the process). If it’s changing the world, (even one sentence at a time) DO that!
We often devote so much energy planning for one special thing. We obsess over details. We spend an incredible amount of money. We put “day-to-day” life on hold and forget about being present in the moment, so that we can get to “The Big Thing”. We worry and agonize and then, when it’s over- the vacation, the wedding, the remodel, or the event, we’re left a little flat. We then run through life to the “Next Big Thing” to get that feeling of excitement and anticipation again. We discount too many days, spending all our energy on “The Big Thing” will make life better, but it often doesn’t work that way.
In Buddhism, “Maranaste” is death awareness. In the Buddhist meditation practice, “Maranassati”, you use visualization and contemplation to consider death. When we’re aware of the ultimate death of our human bodies, we open the door for discovering what’s at the core of our life and then valuing each day.
A lot of people are fully alive outside, but dead inside. They’ve closed their hearts or their minds and they’ve given up. They’ve done battle too many times to put the armor back on. They’ve not experienced love often enough to risk trying again, so they walk through life simply waiting for death. They’re like birds with broken wings. They can’t soar where their spirits naturally want to take them. Sadly, most of us have, at some point, felt that way. Do you ever feel like your wings have been clipped and that you just can’t fly?
A life spent loving is the opposite of a life spent hating. When hate trumps love we spiral into:
and destruction- of our world, our country, our cities, our faith communities, our families and ourselves.
Pay attention to the details; to the nuances.
Be kind to yourself.
Be kind to the people you’re with.
Arm yourself with love.
ALLOW love into you life, if you’ve been holding that door closed.
ALLOW yourself to smile, to laugh, to live each day fully.
ALLOW yourself to honor each day as a matter of life or death.
Some of us will live long, productive lives like Stephi and Brian’s Mom, Jean. Some of us will live with challenge and pain and have our lives end at a “halfway point” like my courageous brother, Bob. Some of us will lose someone who just started the journey like Jill’s childhood friend, Linda. Life is fragile.
What if we start a revolution of spreading love? What if we each reach out to five people, today, to let them know they matter to us? It could be as simple as sending an email or text or picking up the phone and saying “you matter to me”. What if we ask those five folks to reach out to five more people? What if each of them then touches the lives of five more?
What is your truth?
What has meaning to you?
What do you present to the world?
We have choices to make every day, every hour and every minute that impact the time we do have. Each day we have a new chance to honor and revere life.
While we have the time, let’s choose kindness. Let’s choose love. Let’s choose life.
©2015 Peace Full Home/Intentional Living