When it comes to dying, I’m an amateur. I haven’t done it – I think when I come to it, I will still be an amateur, somewhere between frightened and terrified. I know that everything I have been in my life will come up before me. I will need comfort and reassurance, and certain things I know will help me to die.
One will be thinking about my family and my friends, and the love that I have given and received. It will help me also to think about my words and my vocation, because that’s been a source of great joy to me. I also will think about all the beauty I have tasted, and the beauty of the world, knowing that no matter how old I am, I will lament leaving the wondrous beauty of this world. It will be a struggle to trust that what lies ahead is anything as marvelous as what is behind, the gift of this life.
I’ve been a person who’s been on a religious quest my entire life. This is not new with me; I was almost born doing it. I have studied many of the great religions, and for me, there is one great scripture in all of the literature of the world, one that I want read to me as I’m dying.
This is my scripture, and it’s Psalm 139:
Wither shall I go from Thy Spirit,
Or wither shall I flee from Thy Presence?
If I shall ascend up into heaven, Thou art there.
If I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there shall Thy hand lead me and Thy right hand shall hold me.
– Excerpt from Psalm 139, King James Version
The reason this is my scripture is because it’s the deepest experience I have that whoever it is that I am, however it is that I came to be – through the DNA, the process of coming through my mother’s womb and into this world – there has always been a sense of guidance and purpose both behind and before me.
Even when I have been in despair, there is something deeper down, some kind of trust beneath all the doubt, beneath the anxiety, beneath the fear; I am encompassed by the great reality that can never be named, which therefore we call God.
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