He lived his life until the very end of his life. And yet, he seemed to have a peaceful acceptance about passing on. Before he went to the hospice facility last week, he told his family he wouldn't be here much longer. And early yesterday--in the middle of the night, after everyone had gone home--my dear friend's father slipped out of this world. Earlier that day, some members of the church choir came to his room and sang. And during Amazing Grace, my friend told me he tried to mouth the words. On his final day, his loved ones told stories, spending hours by his side. And while I'm so very sad for my friend, and her family, and what they have lost, I can't help but feel hopeful. Hopeful because the closing scene was a beautiful ending to a rich life story. Well done.
Today, to honor of Don Woods, I'd like to repost something I wrote last September, since he is the one who inspired the words.
I watched him sing in the church choir this past Sunday. An 80-year-old man with terminal cancer. Standing there. Quite possibly in pain. In the sunset of his life.
I didn't cry. But I was right there, on the edge. The man is my good friend's father, so later that day I texted her and told her how seeing her dad had moved me. She responded, "He is the epitome of 'in all things, choose joy.'"
Have you ever wondered how some people are able to do that? As a general practice, I don't compartmentalize very well. At church on Sunday, we read this:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6
Don't be anxious about anything? Hmmm. In the back of my mind, the worries churn. And here's what I've noticed about that:
Worry makes me feel like I have all the time in the world. I not only assume I have tons of time left here, but obsessing on the negative makes me feel like I do. When I look up, here is what I see:
Dillon is losing teeth. And Cate is sprouting some.
The fall season is here, and this is how we celebrate.
The moments are fleeting. True. Funny how focusing on the good things makes me more aware of that. But here's something else, something important I've realized about all of these blessings:
I don't believe I'm entitled to them. But I do believe I'm worthy.
I'm worthy of joy. I'm worthy of peace. I'm worthy of my own version of happiness. I don't know where the sense of worthiness comes from, and why it seems more accessible to some than others. But I can pinpoint times in my life, at critical moments of decision, where I decided that I was indeed, worthy.
We're all worthy. But we have to choose. We have to be willing do the work.
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8
Maybe this kind of work isn't as difficult as we think.