Lord, how long will I live? When will I die? Tell me how soon my life will end.” (The Bible, Psalms 39:4)
Elsy Mathew, Bangalore -
Elena Frings, a young woman in her 20s, was informed by her doctor that her heart was so weak that she had only six months to live. She decided to leave her office job in Santiago, Chile, and work as a volunteer community organizer among the city’s slum-dwellers. “That way I will die happy,” she said to a friend. Mr. Frings worked so effectively that she was invited to New York to give talks about the programme. There, she met a surgeon who successfully operated on her defective heart. Elena Frings is now back in South America, helping the poor who are marginalized by society. It was her positive attitude to death—not the operation—that gave new meaning and direction to her life.
If you were given six months to live, what effect would the news have on your life? The way each of us responds to that question is actually our answer to the question, “What is death?”
Remember that death is coming for you some day, and you haven't been told when that will be. Before that day comes, be kind to your friends; be as generous as you can. Don't deny yourself a single day's happiness. If there is something you want to do and it is lawful, go ahead! ( Sirach 14:11).
Wake up and see your life is too short. The realization that life is short will bring dynamism to your life—unwanted things and distractions will fall away. When you must act or make an effort, know that life is short. Time is running out. What are you doing with your life? Is your life useful to you and the world around you? Realize that life is too short. When you realize life is short, procrastination falls away.
We leave this world just as we entered it-with nothing. In spite of all our work there is nothing we can take with us. It isn’t right! We go just as we came. We labour, trying to catch the wind, and what do we get? We have to live our lives in darkness and grief, worried, angry, and sick. ((Ecclesiastes 5:15).
Death! The very thought of it is bitter to someone who is prosperous, living peacefully with his possessions, free of worries, and still able to enjoy his food. Death! Its sentence is welcome to someone living in poverty, with failing health, very old, burdened with worries, blind, and without hope.
The thought of death is the best brake one can apply to the wheels of a fast-paced life. The moment one thinks of death everything falls into different perspective and apprehensions follow. Why do I struggle in life? Why such foolish ambitions, greed and short-lived pleasures? I will not take anything with me. Nor will I hear my mourners weep or the band play the funeral march! To the intellectuals, talking about death makes one a pessimist. To the simple it makes one a realist. "For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world" ( 1 Tim 6:7).
Do not be afraid of death’s decree. Remember that it came to those before you and will come to those after you. The Lord has decreed it for every living creature. Who are you to object to what the Most High wishes? In the world of the dead no one will care whether you lived ten years, a hundred, or a thousand. (Sirach 41:1-4)
An old man, stooped by age and hard work, was gathering sticks in the forest. As he hobbled painfully along, he thought of his troubles and began to feel very sorry for himself. With a hopeless gesture he threw his bundle of sticks upon the ground and groaned. Life is too hard. I cannot bear it any longer. If only Death would come and take me!” Even as the words were out of his mouth, Death in the form of a skeleton in a black robe, stood before him. “I heard you call me, sir,” he said, “What can I do for you?”
The old man took one look and replied, “Could you please help me to put this bundle of sticks back on my shoulder again?”
Death is an inevitable phenomenon that comes unaware. In death only the body perishes. But it is a much deeper phenomenon. It is the end of something and from there something new happens. Change in our attitudes, habits, way of life etc. could also be a kind of death and a victory over ourselves. Some people are dead in the mind and just live like robots. Death is surrender to God. Death is the end of all material possessions and a goodbye to materiality and takes everything away from us. All boundaries disappear in death and everybody becomes an equal slave to the one master—death. The more we are afraid of death, the more we avoid life. We must have the courage to face death, accept it as part and parcel of the phenomenon called life.
We are confused and fearful, dreading the day of our death—all of us from the king on his splendid throne wearing royal robes and a crown, to the humblest person dressed in sacks
and living in poverty. All through our lives we meet anger, jealousy, and
trouble. Things disturb us; we live with furious conflicts and with the fear of
death. (Sirach 40:2).
Dialog between God and the Dead Man.
A man died. When he realized it he saw God coming towards him with a suitcase in his hand!
God: Alright son, it’s time to go!
Man: So soon? I had a lot of plans.
God: I am sorry but it’s time to go!
Man: What do you have in that suitcase?
God: Your belongings?
Man: My belongings? You mean my things, clothes, money…
God: No. They belong to time!
Man: Is it my talent?
God. No. They belong to circumstances!
Man; Is it my friends and family?
God: No son. They belong to the Path you Traveled!
Man: Is it my wife and children?
God: No my boy. They belong to your heart!
Man: Then it must be my body.
God: No. It belongs to Dust!
Man: Then surely it must be my Soul.
God: You are mistaken son. Your Soul belongs to me!
Man with tears in his eyes and full of fear took the suitcase from God’s hand and opened it. “EMPTY”! Heartbroken and with tears rolling down his cheek he asks God:
“I never owned anything?
God: That’s right. You never owned anything!
Man: Then? What was mine?
God: Your Moment. Every Moment you lived was yours! Life is just a Moment!
What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God.