Accepting Death With Joy –

I have terminal cancer, and although I feel stable in my level of discomfort, I am not questioning anything – because in some significant ways my health or lack of it is not my business. 

We tend to think that our health is our responsibility, and, of course, it is. But all of us will inevitably reach that day when our health, and our physical life, come to their natural end. No one can avoid it.

So why not just accept it? In that sense, my health, at this late stage of my existence here on this physical plane is no longer my business – instead, it’s God’s business – and all I have to do is to lay all my affairs in His loving hands. 

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With this accepting approach to my impending death, every day I live I feel a greater sense of peace.

If and when the slight twinges of emotional pain, my memories of being abused, or even my lingering resentment about what someone said or did come to mind, I immediately become aware that I have just fallen into the snare of my ego, and I literally shake my head and remind myself that I do not need to dwell on the past. 

Immediately, I become free. 

With that freedom comes release, acceptance, and joy. What a beautiful life I’m living in! I have come to believe that the acute awareness of my physical mortality has created this healthy perspective, and I am so grateful that I live in the here and now, and not in my yesterday and then. Like the Baha’i teachings advise everyone, I no longer look to the past, but only toward the future:

… in the sight of God the past, the present and the future are all one and the same – whereas, relative to man, the past is gone and forgotten, the present is fleeting, and the future is within the realm of hope.

That passage, from the writings of Abdu’l-Baha, gives me such joy!

Now I actually think about the end of my physical life with joy and anticipation. What a journey, what an adventure, what a revelatory experience my second birth will be! When our loving Creator decides to call me home, I will be in an eternal paradise. I have become patient, since I am leaving all of my affairs in God’s hands, which includes the transition time between the present and the future. 

I do not have much that I have to do here in the long-term care facility where I live, so I’ve become an expert at waiting, and I have a great time filling the time. I laugh and joke with the other residents here, give everybody a hard time, and try to spread love and kindness to everyone. What else would I need to have?! 

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At some moments I find myself wishing I had the emotional and spiritual peace and contentment I now have a long time ago, but in doing so, I realize, I would imprison myself in the past. Also, I’m sure I wasn’t ready to receive or understand or appreciate that great bounty until now. 

So all I can do is be grateful to God and say this beautiful Baha’i prayer from Baha’u’llah:

My God, my Adored One, my King, my Desire! What tongue can voice my thanks to Thee? I was heedless, Thou didst awaken me. I had turned back from Thee, Thou didst graciously aid me to turn towards Thee. I was as one dead, Thou didst quicken me with the water of life. I was withered, Thou didst revive me with the heavenly stream of Thine utterance which hath flowed forth from the Pen of the All-Merciful.

O Divine Providence! All existence is begotten by Thy bounty; deprive it not of the waters of Thy generosity, neither do Thou withhold it from the ocean of Thy mercy. I beseech Thee to aid and assist me at all times and under all conditions, and seek from the heaven of Thy grace Thine ancient favor. Thou art, in truth, the Lord of bounty, and the Sovereign of the kingdom of eternity.

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