By Greg Schmidt, hospice chaplain
In nature, we discover life is FILLED with pressure-filled and time-filled mysteries. For instance, tectonic shifts in platelets near the earth’s crust cause earthquakes. A clam that has some sort of “irritant” lodged in its center – intentionally or not – produces a pearl. Coal is formed when dead plant matter decays into peat and, over millions of years, heat and pressure converts the peat into coal. The list goes on and on. Without pressure and time, some of life’s simple “treasures” would not otherwise exist.
Family members and potential patients who meet with the Heart & Soul Hospice team often reveal they are being squeezed. To some extent, the pressure is on. The time is now. And because someone’s impending death dominates their thoughts, the future may not seem very “treasure” oriented.
At Heart & Soul Hospice we want to believe some of life’s greatest treasures can be discovered during the death and dying cycle. Why? For at least two reasons. First, because when you and I are seemingly having the life squeezed out of us – figuratively or as a matter of fact – I believe we can draw closer to God than we otherwise might. God is always close. He doesn’t “get closer” when we’re feeling challenged. He’s always been as close as He will ever be. We’re the ones with the changed perspective. He’s always standing at the door, knocking, to see if we want to let Him in. Second, when we’re stressed and squeezed, we have the opportunity to take a step back, and re-evaluate what’s important about the time we have left and what we’re going to do with that time.
Don’t miss the point. When we consider what time is left, the import of life’s mysteries and questions is not about the time per se. It’s about what we do with the time we share with those we love and cherish. It’s a question about activity. Will we ask for and grant forgiveness? How will we actively demonstrate love? Will we go for more walks? Will we talk and share at a deeper level? Are we willing to silence our tongue and brain to just listen? Will we sleep less so we can experience more? In other words, can we discover the joy of taking in the smell, sight, taste, touch and sound of every person, place and thing at our doorstep?
When the pressure related to death and dying result in a re-evaluating our priorities, discovering new goals, and implementing them into our daily life, then the treasure is found. While death is always at some level devastating to most of us, it doesn’t have to destroy us. It can, in fact, offer us new points of mental, emotional, and spiritual strength.
By the way, why wait until you or someone around you is dying before you pursue the kind of transformational living we’re suggesting? Jesus fully intended that his followers would experience the glory of God today, long before a day called Heaven. Don’t become so heavenly-minded that you’re of no earthly good. Give away the love you have already received from God.