I woke up suddenly at 10 a.m., which is the middle of night for me, with an unusual feeling in the pit of my stomach – grief and sorrow about my upcoming death.
Living here in a nursing home in the final days of my physical existence, this realization that the end of my bodily life is near shook me. Even though these feelings disappeared shortly as I analyzed the issue, once again I was confirmed that I still love to live.
At the same time, I know that I’ll love leaving even more. The beautiful promises of the Baha’i teachings reassure me that the next world awaits with all of its wonders. In his writings, Abdu’l-Baha said:
Praise be to God, the gate of boundless grace is opened wide, the heavenly table is set, the servants of the Merciful and His handmaids are present at the feast. Strive ye to receive your share of this eternal food, so that ye shall be loved and cherished in this world and the next.
RELATED: Are You Ready to Meet Your Maker?
I know that I am tired of living in limbo and waiting, without the opportunities of becoming more useful and active. My cancer means that I have very little physical energy, and I’m tired of sleeping my life away, even though some of my wonderful friends try to assure me that my body needs more rest. I agree with them, because on the one hand they are correct. But I also think that I have to have a plan or purpose for the rest of my life, even though I cannot do much more physically.
All I can say is that I want to have a deadline for my trip.
I have had a long while to search my soul to find the source of my anguish, and once again I found with no surprise that it was my ballooned ego. I have not yet come to grips with the issue of my dependency on others.
All my life, even as a child, I’ve been independent of others. I prided myself in taking care of others. I remember, as a youth, maybe at age of 12 or 13, a bunch of us would go to our Baha’i virtues class, and when we were leaving after the class was over, I would accompany every one of my fellow youth to their homes, since we all lived near one another, and only then would I go to my own home. So my self-image or identity was that of feeling stronger than others, and thus my duty was to help and protect my classmates.
Having this background, which was slightly nudged by my father, made me a self-sufficient person, not in need of others for any kind of help. This worked very well for most of my life, except that now toward the end of my life, it has became a source of pain and shame. It frightens me when I think of the possibility of living much longer and becoming burdensome to my dedicated loved ones. I actually feel a sense of shame for living this long, because I’m no longer self-sufficient.
But I also know, intellectually at least, that every breath we take is sacred.
What a hypocrite! How wishy-washy I feel! When I give talks about our worthiness or entitlement to be alive, I feel sense of untrueness toward myself. While I’m talking, I ask myself do I believe it?
Of course, I have learned and am learning more and more to accept my reliance on others, and particularly rely on my loving and all-merciful Creator. This gives me some degree of success and inner peace. However, a push and pull continues within me, and my reluctance on depending on others prevents me from even asking for help from the helpers in my nursing home. Sometimes I do without what I need because I don’t want to have to ask. I am very timid about it, and I’ve realized that isn’t fair to myself. Even though my friends and the workers here tell me that I am entitled to have what I need, the little child within tells me you are not good enough and do not deserve the good things that are happening to you at this stage of life.
So what do I need to learn, to really master?
Perhaps I need to work on being humble toward God and letting Him dictate how long I must be in this physical world. He, not me, is the Creator of my life. Maybe I should learn to detach myself from my own opinion of what is right or wrong for me, what should I do and not to do about my life’s situation and timing, and concentrate on what God decides about it. I know I need to rely more on God and let Him take care of me. I have come a LONG way in this understanding, evinced by the great degree of the inner peace I feel, but I need to have more of it. I need to learn to lose my sense of pride.
To help me do that, I recite this beautiful Baha’i prayer frequently, for the spiritual growth that I absolutely need:
Create in me a pure heart, O my God, and renew a tranquil conscience within me, O my Hope! Through the spirit of power confirm Thou me in Thy Cause, O my Best-Beloved, and by the light of Thy glory reveal unto me Thy path, O Thou the Goal of my desire! Through the power of Thy transcendent might lift me up unto the heaven of Thy holiness, O Source of my being, and by the breezes of Thine eternity gladden me, O Thou Who art my God! Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquillity on me, O my Companion, and let the riches of Thine ancient countenance deliver me from all except Thee, O my Master, and let the tidings of the revelation of Thine incorruptible Essence bring me joy, O Thou Who art the most manifest of the manifest and the most hidden of the hidden!
This prayer really helps me. I am much better emotionally today, and in fact I did not have much time to think about these inner tests and difficulties, because I was in deep, peaceful sleep for maybe 17 hours last night. Bless the gift of sleep. Thank you, God, for it, and thank you for helping me see my inner struggles and find ways to understand and change them.