Befriending Life and Death

Lately I have been reflecting and reading about death. Some may find this topic somber and even morbid, personally it has not been.  As someone in full-time parish ministry, ever so often I have to celebrate someone's life through a funeral service. This is what we do when someone dies, we focus on their life and what it meant to the relatives, friends and acquaintances left behind.

In her book 'Befriending Death', author Michelle O'Rourke states, that Henri Nouwen in his book 'Our Greatest Gift', says, "We have to befriend life and our purpose first, before we can embrace death."

As I continue to reflect on my own life and also on the lives of my parents who are growing older, this message rings true to me. When I realize what my purpose is for being in this world and I am able to try to fulfill that purpose, death does not seem so scary. It is when I feel that I have wasted my one life on earth that death becomes scary.

A new year means that I have been blessed with another opportunity to 'figure out' with much help from the Holy Spirit what my purpose for this life is.

Nouwen also says that, "The beauty of life is long after we die, we continue to bear fruit." We see that if the people who have died were able realize what their purpose in life was and they tried to lived their life to the fullest, this is what makes an impact on people.

Nouwen says, "As long we are afraid (of death), it is not only difficult for us to live well and love well, but also difficult for us to die well. Love is stronger than death; God's love was there for you before you were born and will be there for you after you have died."

He says, "The way I look at life and death ultimately affects how I live."

How can I prepare myself for my death in such a way that my death can bear fruit for others?

Recommended books:
Henri Nouwen, 'Our Greatest Gift: A Meditation on Dying and Caring'
Michelle O'Rourke, 'Befriending Death: Henri Nouwen and a Spirituality of Death and Dying'

Lystra Long, OP

New Grant, Trinidad


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