A friend of mine has cancer, and she is in a lot of pain. She is trying to get an appointment with her doctors to discuss a very particular, practical issue: in taking the Oxycontin she has been prescribed, is addiction going to be an issue, or is her life expectancy so short that it won’t matter?
Immediately when she told me about this, I wanted to suggest other pain medications and treatments that weren’t so addictive. I didn’t want her choice to have to be so dire. Then I realized that my own terror and deep sadness at the prospect of losing her was getting in the way of really being able to listen to what she was telling me. She is dying. The question is simply how soon.
We are all dying. Severe chronic pain from a terminal illness brings the issue into sharp focus for those who suffer. They are dying sooner rather than later. But I might die before my friend. So might you.
In the flush of health and well-being, it’s hard to remember that. It’s hard to really take in the fact that at some point, sooner or later, we all face a transition. We’ll be leaving everything we know and love. There will be an ending.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus forecasts that many of his listeners will die in their sins, for they are not hearing the “I Am” of his presence among us. They are not seeing in him the incarnation of God. They will look for him and not be able to find him.
To me, dying in my sins means getting to the end of my life without having realized that the little plans, goals, and expectations of my daily existence don’t really matter. What matters is being attuned to Christ, turned toward the living presence of God, who is Love. Everything else can be let go.
The awareness that death is inevitable helps me to choose the important focus. So much of the ego dreams to which I aspire will die with me. What will remain? The Christ-focused things. They not only will remain, they are already multiplying like weeds in the garden of Soul.
This is what it means to be from above. I’m almost positive that it’s all about Love.