Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Facing death

"There are many times when this whole experience seems bigger than me, when I wonder how I can possibly make it through the next few months much less the next fifty years. But as with any great adventure, faith and a certain degree of fearlessness have sustained me thus far and I trust they will continue to do so in the future."  -Anne Andrus (1968-2012)

I randomly linked into a blog written by the woman quoted above when googling globe trotting.  Her blog detailed how she and her family set on a round-the-world trip for more than a year.  Full of pictures, her blog drew me in as she explained the nitty-gritty (cost of renting a car versus taking a bus when they had six people to transport), the exciting (exotic food and exotic people), and the providential (receiving help from perfect strangers, just when they needed it).  And it was so neat to follow them as they had so many adventures!  Everywhere they went was a new experience and her blog would focus on that: taking each day one day at a time, enjoying each moment, seeing new places, discovering new people, and trying new things.  

As I read blog after blog, the story took a sad, unexpected turn.  After her return home she discovered she had cancer.  She continued to blog occasionally as she battled against her disease.  She had many doubts and fears, mostly about leaving her family behind, but through it all she showed the most exceptional faith in God, trusting that regardless of what was to come, she would be taken care of and so would her family.  Now she was facing a journey that made traveling around the world pale in comparison.  What struck me the most was her strength: she was not afraid to fight and she was not afraid to die.

I recently heard the story about the disciples traveling alone in a boat one night on a rough and stormy sea.  They were afraid for their lives but this did not compare to the fear they felt when they saw Jesus walking toward them.  Believing they saw a ghost paralyzed them.  Jesus was about to pass them by when He saw that they were afraid and spoke to them.  

I love what He says, "Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid."  Why shouldn't we fear?  Because Jesus is here, with us, when life seems most difficult.

And then He got into the boat with them...and the waters calmed...and they were amazed.  

And that is the only way I can see having peace as we approach death.  Journeying forward with Jesus in our boat, toward His home.  How else can we face death without fear?  As St. Paul said, once we have Christ, death loses its victory and its sting.  And also because of this, there is hope for everyone.

Pope Francis said something akin to this, "I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”

You have to trust Him!  Let Him in your boat, so to speak, because even in death or rather especially in death, we find hope in Him.

Fasting was a wonderful experience.  I know that it was God's grace that enabled me to complete 9 days!  Mostly because today I made a batch of cookies and drank 2 beers.  So there you have it!  No self-control on my own.  Another proof that I need God's grace to bring me minute to minute!

Life can be strange and full of hardships...So I am glad this wasn't a walking on water reflection...maybe another time...today I'm just grateful to be in the boat, knowing the Lord of the universe is with me!

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