Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tunnel Vision?

Ok, these are somewhat unrelated thoughts, but here goes:

1) Bridgette & Brennan left for the long "weekend." I have a wedding to perform Saturday and duties at Sunday worship, so I was unable to accompany them to HOT-lanta for our college friend's 30th Birthday Bash. Last time they were away, I was looking forward to it - but by the end, I was REALLY missing them. I've been looking forward to this too - it's nice to have a little time to yourself, to do the some of those things that don't seem to fit into your schedule... BUT - more than that, I will & already am missing them. I dropped them off at the airport this morning. I hugged and kissed them, prayed with them, and talked to them when they touched down (I also tracked their flight...) - it's nice to have time to yourself - but I love and miss my family. Simple as that.

2) I've had a few conversations lately and been reflecting a bit on "end-of-life" stuff. As a pastor, it's amazing how much you end up talking about people and their family and friends who are sick/dying/dead. I think it has a bit to do with prayer - how we always seem to be interested in doing it - praying for others, but there's more to it than that. Anyway, I've reflected a bit on my own life - what it will be like when I'm in that place - not my friends or family dying, but me.

Recently, one of my Senior pastors remarked that everyone figures they'll die quickly, in the night or in a car accident - but you have to plan for the long illnesses, etc. I go back and forth about the whole being "scared" of death and all. But when you get right down to it - everyone dies, so you might as well buck up and face the fact. So, when I think about myself, coming down with cancer or something else, some other debilitating disease, I think of two things. The first is that I want to make sure that my family is alright. If it were to happen when I was still relatively young, kids still in school, etc - I'd be sad. I'd be sad that they wouldn't have me at their graduation, wedding, there for their kids - as the crotchety old grandfather who tells stories about going to school, uphill barefoot in 6ft of snow back in Canada...

But I also have a very strong feeling about quality of life and the natural inevitability of death. It comes - no matter who you are, no matter how much money you make, no matter what you do. You're gonna die. If I've got X amount of dollars and I can spend it on treating my disease, getting another 6 months or 6 years - or giving it away to help others... Well, that question comes down to where I am in my life. If I'm young, my kids are young, we're probably talking about trying to get a few more years out. But If I'm older, I'm probably talking about grabbing a dark beer, sitting on the porch, inviting my friends and family over to enjoy the sunset and let ol' death come.

I've waxed eloquently with people before about how I believe our Western culture has devalued life by devaluing death. We're so scared of death - that we ruin our lives running from it. A good death is still something worth celebrating. Not that we should somehow seek it or anything - but I think Jesus seemed to say it best when he said - "those who seek to save their lives will lose them, and those who lose them, for my sake, will gain them." Something like that.

I should end with this disclaimer though - a) I'm not telling anyone how to die. This is just what I'm thinking for myself.
b) I am not, at least not that I know of, in any significant health crisis of my own. Yeah, I need to be a little more active, but I'm fine. These are just thoughts running through my head...

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