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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

At What Age Do You Think You Will Die?

Throughout most of my life I have connected with people older than I am.  In college, there were only two people with whom I had much in common:  one of them I married :-), the other was a non-traditional student in her mid to late 40s.  Both of them I met in Father Lambert's Chemistry lab.  Especially in college, people my own age seemed, well, so young.  As I've grown in age, I have found a few people closer to my age with whom I connect, but in general, I still tend to gravitate toward an "older crowd."

Someone I respect very much said it is wonderful to find someone further along the "path" than you are, and how you often know it instinctively and want to spend time with them.  Maybe that is part of it for me.  This same person also said two of the best ways to achieve personal growth are to be abandoned as a child or suffer a traumatic event...hmmm.  Growth can be painful, but if you can work through the pain, THROUGH the pain, then you come out the other side a changed person.  If you've experienced this before, you know what he's talking about.

So the prayer group to which I belong is mostly people a few years older than I.  I was a little surprised when one evening someone in the group said she had recently and suddenly realized that she might not be alive much longer!  Maybe only ten more years or so.  Her husband remarked that when he worked for a major corporation, he had someone come out to give talks, and one year the guy asked everyone at what age they thought they would die.  I think most of us don't want to think about our death, and so avoid the discussions and thoughts leading to that topic, but he had been given the opportunity to consider this well before "the time".  I think we would all do well to consider this, for we know neither the time nor the place of our death.  Some months before I wrote the poem in my previous post, I was "receiving" messages which I was certain were pointing to my death - I heard calls to "come home", and in my brain at the time (during a time of desolation), that could only have meant one thing: Heaven.  One day, in the midst of this certainty that my death would be soon, I was walking down my driveway and suddenly a feeling of peace and comfort washed over me.  I said "I'm ready, Lord.  Take me when it is time" (consolation, right when I didn't expect it or even know what it was;-).  I didn't want to die, but at that moment, I felt ready and would accept it when it came. 

So when that comment was made about the timing of death, it gave me pause.  As a young child, it was almost painful to try to look and think ahead to a time when I was older, even just a few years older.  It was almost like a thick fog lay between me and the future.  Maybe this is part of what Jesus meant when he said we should not worry about tomorrow, all that anxiety will not add a day to our lives.  Certainly we should work and plan and prepare, but worrying about a future which hasn't happened yet isn't going to increase our lifespan.  The birds gather their food, build their nests, but they do it because it is what they are supposed to do, not out of worry or anxiety.  So, too, we should continue to do what we are "supposed" to do, but leave the future to God, the unknown to God.  Trust, placing your trust in God -- when you can do it, it is truly an amazingly peaceful feeling.

So, at what age do I see death visiting upon me?  That was a hard question for me, and for a while I couldn't come up with an age.  When I finally was able to, I was surprised.  Today I am 41, feeling young and healthy...but the age that kept coming up was 38 (the end of my old life...beginning of a new one?).

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