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Sunday, November 29, 2009


Death is terrifying because it is so ordinary. It happens all the time.
~ Susan Cheever

There's a story about a man who was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He had little time left on this earth.

It was interesting to see him start to make amends with people, to start thinking about his legacy. He sold most of his belongings and gave the money to the poor. He started mentoring young people at a youth center. He volunteered his time at a local hospital. The word "on the street" was that he had found God.

Those who knew him were amazed at the difference he made in such a short time, and he often lamented the fact that he waited so long to change. But he said he was ready to go, and at peace with the inevitable. Everyone marveled at his strength.

However . . . there was one small kink in this storyline . . .

He didn't die.


He didn't have the disease he thought he had.

At first, he was overjoyed with his new-found lease on life. He told everyone at the hospital he volunteered at. He threw a party at the youth center. All was well, and life was good!

You'd think that this would be another life-defining moment for him. You know, a lesson on the power of positive thinking. Good karma, so to speak.

But an interesting thing started to happen.

He stopped giving to charity, and said he didn't have time to volunteer at the hospital anymore. Before long, word spread that he quit mentoring at the youth center. He got a new job, and someone overheard him mention that he had to plan for the future, to take care of his retirement and savings now.

Before long, those principles that were so important to him disappeared, just like the rest of his story, fading into oblivion.

Don't get me wrong. I don't blame him for any of this. It's so easy for us to judge sometimes, but truth be told, we are all unfocused.

This story has me thinking. C. S. Lewis said that God yells in our pain. I agree. Any one of us who receives a tragic diagnosis looks at life much differently. Things that were important are no longer even on the list of priorities, and age-old truths about the importance of God, family, and others quickly jump to forefront of our thoughts and actions.

Our spiritual lives are marked by the equality of the Gospel. Our physical lives are marked by the equality of death. We all possess a one-way ticket to Tombstone. When you think about it, we are all in this together . . .

We are all terminal.

We have all been diagnosed. The question is, "How do we handle it?". What are you doing with the time you have left. No one knows when or how the end will come, but everyone can see where this diagnosis is pointing, that subject of great importance . . .


Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day . . . There are only so many tomorrows. ~ Pope Paul VI

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins

Have the courage to live. Anyone can die. ~ Robert Cody

Life is an occasion. RISE TO IT! ~ Mr. Magorium

© Copyright Derek Hickman 2009


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