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Monday, October 13, 2008

The Angels Amongst Us

The thing that separates most of us from those that have managed to make peace with their lives, like the greatest of spiritual leaders, is a real knowledge of our mortality.

Understanding we are going to die is the time we can truly start to live. We will realise the things that really matter in life are the things we will leave behind with our memory, not the things we try to accumulate and which we can not take with us in our passing.

Unlike the date of our birth, most of us do not know the date we will die. However, there are those of us struck down suddenly by a terminal illness who know all too well when they will pass.

The ones that make peace with their lives will take the burden of this knowledge as a blessing, often to give themselves enough time to prepare themselves and their loved ones for their passing.

My post about celebrating every moment is in essence asking us all to recognise and face our own mortality, and in doing so we will find the motivation to appreciate and cherish every moment.

The moments go by all too quickly; we need to make the most of them.

I recently met one such lady who is an outpatient at a hospital we have admitted a nephew of mine into for a hip operation.

Talking to her about her preparations for her funeral it was obvious that she had faced her own mortality with a courage I imagine young boys in the Great War must have shown as they jumped over the trenches into "No Man's Land" and to inevitable death. The peace and light shining from this lady's face, who is suffering from the advanced stages of AIDS, was clear to see. Her spirit was shining.

I asked her what she considered the biggest success in her life would be, and "to have as many people who come to my funeral to think of me with as much love as possible" was her thoughtful reply.

What could make her so alive in the face of death and expand the hearts she touched beyond its limits, but the facing of her own mortality with such conviction?

She made me feel sure that when we all go over our own personal trench into a no man's land, Death will not beat us. We all have the potential to release the light lying dormant in all of us, without needing a terminal illness to shake us from our stupor.

And although I have the audacity to call myself a writer, I am not prone to an over-active imagination, but I can attest that this lady had the face of an angel. She was just missing a pair of wings and a halo, but after our conversation ended and we went our separate ways, I couldn't brush off the feeling that I had just spoken to an angel.

It hit me that I finally understood what Hollywood actor Tom Hanks was trying to say over a decade ago in his embarrassingly blubbered Oscar acceptance speech for his role in Philadelphia about there being angels walking our streets everyday.

I finally understood, because I had just been touched by one.

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