Death always takes us by surprise. Even after a long sickbed, when we had time to reflect about the dreaded hour to come, most people will still have that “cheated out of life” feeling.
Henry Nouwen once wrote that one of our great difficulties in dealing with life’s realities is that we live under the illusion of immortality.
Take modern society as an example. The stuff that sell the most, are the kinds that promise to keep us young and pretty.
Or how about Mainstream Religion? From all walks of life Religion tends to take us out of here, focusing the eternal life to come, never really dealing with the common, everyday realities that this life has to offer as a gift and not a curse.
So we end up living and praying as if life will go on forever. As if sickness and difficulties will never cross our or our love ones’ paths.
But this is just an illusion.
We have to move beyond this way of living.
For Nouwen this move meant prayer.
To pray is to realise your own mortality, your own vulnerability and your desperate need for community, friendship and intimacy.
But Nouwen was not referring to bed side prayers and the endless list of wants and needs we communicate to God under the banner of Faith and Prayer.
He was talking about a life constantly engaged with God. Not just talking, but really listening to the inner voice of the Big Spirit who dwells in all of us, being guided by God’s voice instead up being tossed around by all the other voices screaming in cacophonic chaos from the top church pulpits, bill boards, magazine covers and Hollywood illusions.
Then, when death happens we might find the grace to embrace it as part of the trickiness of Life going through the motions.