Yesterday, I had lunch with a man who is dying of cancer.
Don't get me wrong. He's hopeful--as anyone would be hopeful. But he also knows the facts.
His cancer is not responding to the latest chemo.
Docs told him it wouldn't be very long.
He's losing copious amounts of weight.
But, he's at peace. He's getting things in order, but hoping he will live.
I noticed something about him that I have noticed repeatedly about folks who are facing imminent death.
There almost always is a great reversal. Almost always.
The things once thought of as trivial become important, and the things once believed to be of utmost importance become trivial.
Maybe another way of saying this is: the things we take for granted become precious and the things we think precious become taken for granted--minor.
Family and their well being becomes prominent. Things once argued over (what to wear, whether one is right or wrong about a minor fact, what kind of music one prefers, what kind of car one drives) all become irrelevant. Expensive cars, good paying jobs, cheering on one's favorite team diminish in importance as time becomes a precious commodity to be spent with those who one loves.
Faith asserts itself. Whereas prayer and times of quiet reflection seemed so tedious and superfluous, they now become profound times of healing--not in the sense of physical healing, but spiritual and mental healing--which lead to peace and acceptance of what is going on. Marveling at the good, the beautiful of creation happens time and again throughout the day--not just on special occasions.
Why is it that for many, this only occurs when confronting one's mortality?
Why is it that we get convinced so easily that trivial things become important and important things are trivial?
What is it about this world we live in; this culture we are a part of that keeps us so focused on, well, us?
Perhaps when confronted with the final loss of "us" in death; before we go to be with God, we come to see it's really not about us. It is about us in relationship with others. It's not about how my needs are satisfied by what I want to pursue. It's about how I seek the good of others as they seek my good.
One of the most interesting things I have heard to explain the nature of God--the Christian perspective of the Trinity--is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, have lived from eternity in a mutual relationship of glorifying one another. The Father glorifies the Son and the Spirit. The Son glorifies the Spirit and the Father. The Spirit glorifies the Son and the Father. The constant glorification and love that the "persons" of the Trinity give to each other fulfills them completely. They had no need for anyone or anything to give them glory or worship.
So why create humans? Not to receive, but to share. To share the wonderful sense of love and fulfillment of this relationship.
Too many times, folks only begin to understand this when their death is imminent.