PARADOXICAL

The faith chronicles

Friday, October 12, 2012

 

Confronting death

Why do I remain scared to death of the subject of death, despite the many close brushes I had with it? I should have been used to the feeling of almost dying by now, after I choked on a lychee alone, ran into an oncoming vehicle's path and missing the thing within an inch, ate something poisonous without knowing, figured in several falls, and so on.

Everyday, there is death. It comes as sure as there is birth. I just have to open the TV or log on to the Internet. Even around me -- babies are born, old people (or not even) pass on. Shoots sprout, and dry leaves fall. Insect lay eggs by the thousands, and I slap an offending intruder that attempts a bite at my skin.

There's this award-winning Japanese movie titled Okuribito (Departures) that points out that, whenever we eat to sustain life, death is there, a life is sacrificed.  The rice grains had to die, as do the vegetables, fruits, fish, and beasts. They must all die, so you and I could live.

Again, why am I so scared about death? I will die -- that's for certain. It could be anytime from now or after several decades more. It's okay. It won't be the end of me. There is life after this life. (Not "life after death," or so said one college professor of mine.) God's love will see me through.

Meanwhile, I savor life, knowing how precious it is in its frailty. But I shouldn't overdo it, as though manically fearful that my time here is much limited. I'm only human, not God; I can only take so much. May God forgive me for my greed for life, which is perhaps due to my thinking that I almost lost it at birth.

Well, I didn't, and truth be told, I've had a fuller life, compared to most people. (Yeah, I would say that.) Maybe not in the conventional way, but I've gone through my 42 years with so much life -- the many ups and downs of it, I mean. I still have a lot to dream of, such that I am unable to say, "I can die anytime now," but the point is, what more can I ask for, considering everything I've been given? It's true that, had I a choice, I would want to live several decades more, but that choice is not mine to make. All I can do is wish.

I believe it is best to surrender my life to God, no matter at what state of completion or incompletion death will find me. God will meet me where I am in my journey.

Dear God, my life is in you. Why am I so afraid to surrender to you? I am not just afraid, I am also very angry.

I've been angry at you, Lord! For why did some of my friends had to die like that? Dove, Cesar, Malou, Marc..I don't want to die. Or I don't want to die yet. Or I don't want to die like that -- too sudden and too young.

Oh, death! Death, death, death, death, death, death, death, death, death, death.

In my great anger, I even uttered a curse at you, like someone possessed. I don't know why I did that, but the reality is I did; I was capable of it. Forgive me, Lord. Forgive me, even more, for assuming, that I am a saint who's incapable of going that low. 

I wasn't just afraid and angry at you. I was terrified of you. But why should I be in terror of a supposedly loving Deity? It's probably because I thought, wrongly, that if I died suddenly, I would go to hell because of unconfessed sin. I'm terrified of dying all too suddenly and of dying alone, thinking I would be alone at it and no one would care. I'm afraid of dying without the money and health card for the hospital. I'm also terrified of possibly leaving my family behind, especially my parents, and the great heartache that would entail for them. I'm terrified of dying at this age because I assume I haven't accomplished anything yet. (This has made me envious of people who I thought are accomplished (forgive me, Lord, for my envies). This perhaps means that I'm terrified that, with physical death, I would also disappear into oblivion. This is another way of saying I'm terrified of death itself, the kind that's forever.

Oh, I'm terrified of so many things. And yet I'm not terrified enough of God. Actually God is my greatest terror -- He who can send me to hell. Nevertheless, I'm terrified of so many things without bothering to question my assumptions at all. Will I really be gone forever and forgotten? Will I really disappear into nothing? Will I really die now, alone, suddenly?

But so what? So be it! When I die, I will no longer fear, as my friend Aline naughtily puts it. I will no longer have to fear, ever. I will no longer have to face the burdens of the living -- including life's many little and big terrors, foremost of which I have listed above.

When I die, God will take care of me, because I have commended my spirit to him. That means I will not really die, I will not die a lone, I will not die unprepared since it's God who wills my earthly end by calling me home. I will not be forgotten and will not dissolve into nothingness.

Take all of me, Lord, take all of me. I surrender my all to you, right here and right now.

Forgive me, Lord, for the temerity of thinking that I am in control, that I can extend my life for one minute with a new-found food supplement or drug. I forget so easily, Lord, that you are the one who's taking charge, that you are the author of everything -- science, medicine, my body. You govern all the atoms and molecules in the universe.

Sometimes I wish I would never wake from sleep again, but I know this is more a desire borne of desperation than a leap of surrender in blind faith. If I want to wake up again or 'pass away,' I want to wake up again for God and pass away for God.

Oh, God, please give me hope, be my strength.

I pray that I won't grow old alone or suddenly faint or die of a heart attack, stroke, heat stroke, aneursym, anaphylactic shock, car accident, or plane crash, but in case I do, so be it. Thanks for breaking my will, Lord.

Take all of me, Lord, take all of me. I surrender my all to you, right here and right now.


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