By Gina Gaudet
Death is all around us. It is the cycle of nature. Plants die. Animals die. We die. But we do so, most of the time, with some degree of consciousness.
In my early 20s during my first year at seminary, an assignment for a psychology of religion class was to write my own obituary. In short, how would you like to die? My death was sudden. I never saw it coming. I did not want a slow, terminal situation that put me face to face with my ultimate demise every day.
I am much older now, much wiser. I’ve accompanied this process with people and learned to value the deep lessons and blessings of our dying. In the epilogue to her book “Trust the Mystery,” author and teacher Nina Shoroplova writes, “One mystery of life that I have barely mentioned is death. It’s a huge mystery and a compelling topic, one that fascinates me because of the ways that death can inform life. It’s a topic that many people spend much energy avoiding, which detracts from its power to enrich our lives.”
When our dear friend Jim Linde realized that his cancer was incurable, he took the journey to heart, being a man of indomitable faith. “I’m going home!” he said to me. “The Lord is near.”
The occasional fear of the unknown – or maybe of the process itself – glimmered slightly across his face. But he gathered up his faith, smiled to all who greeted or visited him, and moved bravely and graciously forward to his glory day.
Joan told me that he always managed to be conscious, present and happily loving toward all who came to visit, despite all he may have felt physically. He was set up in the dining room, with the view of the land, the water, the islands and the sky available to him full-time. And his love-filled, glorious smile completed the picture perfectly. A backdrop of earthly paradise, a smile full of heavenly paradise. I am sure that the multitude of visitors among you could tell many stories that fill out a picture of a rich, complicated, beautiful and loving life. But their last time with him would be a blessing, a gentle smile straight from God. Well done, Jim!