As humans, we are part of God’s creation, which means like everything else in the universe we change. Obviously we age, some of us mature! Our thinking over time can change. Priorities and values can change. And when we come to end of life issues, we often see more clearly what is truly important in life. Mortality can help us realize many things are vain pursuits, and only a few things matter. We can’t take wealth with us when we depart from the earth, but some Fathers thought that all that we gave away in charity we will receive again in the eternal world to come.
Having been diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer has made me reconsider some things. Things most important to me come to the forefront of my thinking. Not only is worldly wealth less valued, but really worldly cares of all kinds get laid aside.
It so happens that before I was diagnosed with lung cancer I signed up with a few members of my parish to join a Hospice training program entitled The Unbroken Circle. It is a program to help parishes form ideas and program to deal with grief, illness and death. I am now in my life still a care giver, but have also become a care receiver.
One piece of literature I’ve read through this program published by Aging with Dignity is titled, Five Wishes. It is a legal type document to help each individual think about end of life issues and to make some decisions about their care at the end of life. I found some of the the ideas in Wish 5 to be worth us considering, no matter where we are in our life sojourn. In fact, our lives might be different if we always had these wishes close to our hearts:
I wish to have my family and friends know that I love them.
I wish to be forgiven for the times I have hurt my family, friends and others.
I wish to have my family, friends and others know that I forgive them for when they may have hurt me.
I wish for my family and friends to know that I do not fear death itself. I think it is not the end, but a new beginning for me.
I wish for all my family members to make peace with each other before my death, if they can.
These certainly are wishes that I have. I might add one other.
I wish for my family and friends always to have the awareness of God’s presence and to know that God loves them.
This is something I pray for my family, my friends, and my enemies.