Aware of Being Terminally Ill And Being Comfortable, At Ease With My Circumstances
God our Father,
as my remaining time grows shorter 1 Cor 7:29
- something that can be said for all of us! – may I be of some help to others to face well the greatest certainty before us all:
that death is part of life,
and a more complete life follows this one.
After this life we are called
to fullness of life in your presence.
Considering the flowers of the field Mt 6:25-34
and the birds of the air,
I am very thankful that I continue to have
much joy in my heart, cf Rom 5:11
much life and vitality and enthusiasm in my spirit, and I do seek to laugh amidst my circumstances of terminal illness,
because having Christian hope Rom 12:12
does make me cheerful. 2 Cor 8:2
The biblical Book of Proverbs reminds us
that ‘a kindly word makes us glad, Prov 12:25
and worry makes a person’s heart heavy’.
Conscious that you lavish your love upon each of us, 1 Jn 3:1
I continue to trust, Father, in your loving care, cf Ps 131
praying to be a more faithful friend
to you, Father, and to many who love me in and through all that happens in my life.
I pray to remain calm and at peace, Mk 4:39; cf Jn 14:27;
at ease with myself, Jn 20:19
reconciled with what is happening to me.
I ask that loved ones and friends be ‘comfortable’, too,
be as much ‘at ease’ as possible with my circumstances of dying.
I am very grateful, Father,
to all who have been supporting me, loving and encouraging me,
caring for and blessing me.
People have visited, emailed, helped with jobs, written, prayed, and supported in many other ways.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine. Sir 6:16
May my thoughts and choices remain positive and life-giving.
It was Gandhi who said
that “no sacrifice is worth the name unless it is a joy: sacrifice and a long face go ill together,”
and Martin Luther King proclaimed
that “unearned suffering is redemptive”. I unite myself and commit myself
to standing beside so many brothers and sisters who are suffering at this moment in different ways.
I join many people, Father,
and commit myself in solidarity with them, whilst praying each day
never to be down-hearted or negative. The offering of self is important, Father,
because difficulties can be transformed for the benefit of others.
I can – and often must – ‘fight’ certain things,
but in a different sense from what many people think.
I am undergoing experiences
and am called to benefit, to learn from it all, to be a better person,
and I pray that those around me, too, will become even better people
because of their circumstances and mine.
I ‘fight’ in the sense of taking to heart such words as these:
“Do not fear, greatly beloved; you are safe.
Be strong and courageous.” Dan 10:11ff
The broadcaster, Mary Craig,
had two children bearing handicaps, and she wrote:
“Our tragedy is not that we suffer but that we waste suffering.
We lose the opportunity
to let it grow into compassion”, and Thomas Merton remarked that “compassion is not learned without suffering”.
I reflect, Father, that in coming to live as one of us,
Jesus did not seek to explain suffering but he did fill it with his presence
and changed people’s lives, as he has done with mine.
When Jesus was praying to you, Father, in the Garden he was ‘fighting’ in the sense that he prayed
that you would remove from him his ‘cup of suffering’.
He prayed that the cup would be taken from him:
the cup representing something that he would otherwise consume
(or, rather, would appear to consume him).
He became reconciled
with what was happening to him
and ultimately it was “resolutely” that Jesus set out Lk 9:51
on what he realised would be his last journey knowing that, in seeing it through,
the outcome would be his torture and death. Jesus embraced what was happening to him. May I do so with what is happening to me.
The practice of ‘giving thanks in all circumstances’ 1 Thess 5:18; Eph 5:20 arises from the gradual building up
of a positive attitude,
as expressed by Elizabeth Kubler Ross, who wrote much about dying:
“I shall be richer all my life for this sorrow. New insights about life have been born.
Life is to be lived
by striking a line through every minus and turning it into a plus.
If agony must be experienced, there are those who are ready to bear some of the burden.
When there is suffering, the gift of courage is given. Death is not to be feared, any more than is birth.
When the body ceases to be,
the spirit emerges, free and unencumbered.”
And so, after I have breathed my last, may my eyes open, Father,
in the place where I will see you face-to-face and hear you welcome me by name.
May I be blessed in hearing you say that you are very fond of me:
blessed, too, in realising
that I am called to friendship with you. Jms 2:23 There in your kingdom
of light, happiness and peace, may I meet again
those who brought much love into my life.
May the loved ones I leave behind on earth
gain some consolation and strength from knowing that I want my love and care for them
to continue beyond death
since I want to be praying for them, Father, at your right hand. Amen.
Nicholas Hutchinson, FSC