to help you discover the God you already know

The One God Whom we already know: part 3

Questions in a time of crisis

The current Lockdown presents everybody with a massive change of life style, the like of which most of us have never experienced before.  Some of us are facing death, our own or that of others, more sharply than before. Some of us are having our working lives turned upside down. Some of us are finding ourselves living solitary lives.  For most people this is a time of challenge and change. Inevitably it prods us into asking questions like: ‘What’s important to me in life?  ‘What makes life worth living? How do I want to live my life?’  In order to stimulate your thinking on these questions I share with you two pieces of wisdom from my collection, that prod and challenge me.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. She writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.” Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

I cannot remember the source of the following words, which are entitled ‘The five messages of life for men.’  Maybe the messages for women are different?

1 Life is hard

Know this ahead of time and do not waste your life trying to make it easy for your self, as all uninitiated men will try to do. We must be signed with the ‘cross’ ahead of time or we will spend all our lives avoiding it. ‘’the stone which the builders reject is, in fact, the cornerstone’’  {Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42}

2 You are going to die

Mortality of life must be made real to the boy by trials, hazing, scarring, facing death and fear of death. Without a truthful cosmology, we are trapped in our pathology and who is to blame for it. All woundings must become ‘’sacred wounds’’ to prepare you for the final letting go.

3 You are not that important

Initiate must be rightly situated in the world that demands respect from him, or he will have an inflated/deflated sense of himself that will need constant reassurance {modern self-esteem movement}. Humility is of central importance for human truth and happiness.

4 You are not in control

Initiate must be led to the limits of his own resources and ability to control outcomes, so that he will learn to rely upon God. It is not a world of unlimited progress, but in fact a limited world. Reality and God are in control. Must admit that you are powerless.

5 Your life is not about you.

The summary experience. You are a fragment of something and Somebody much bigger that yourself. Your job is to listen, obey and adore, not calculate. You are a part of a Great and holy majesty. Otherwise you will assume that you create all the patterns and it is your job to figure them out be yourself, ‘’faith’’ in the most refined sense of the word.

3 Comments

  1. Colin Brown

    Thanks Henry. Really good reminders of the most important things in life. The 5 messages for men is from Richard Rohr and his work on initiation rites and passages for men. Reference is his book, ‘Adam’s Return’.

  2. Mike Catling

    On first reading, I wonder how much the second list creates the regrets found in the first list? Richard Rohr wrote a further list that you’ve quoted here, which can be found in his recent daily meditations. This other list is, if you like, the other side of the coin that emphasises our belovedness.

  3. Mike Catling

    Following up my previous comment, Richard Rohr’s own response to the second list of five quoted in your piece Henry are as follows:
    1. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.
    2. Your name is written in heaven.
    3. your life is hidden with Christ.
    4. Passing over to life.
    5. Nothing can come between us.

    These can be found on Richard Rohr’s website dated 6th to 10th April 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: