Grandma, Christmas 04"…Suffering is part of life and has meaning. Precisely in the handicap, in the disease, in the pain, in old age, in dying and death one can, instead, perceive the truth of life in a clearer way."
Manfred Lutz, a psychiatrist and Vatican academic
I am reading “Life Lessons” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler. My mother in law, a gifted writer and an inspiration in so many wonderful ways sent all of us kids a copy as ‘required reading’. I look forward to her gifts of books and music as each one seems to be perfect for the moment. Her mother, my wife’s grandmother, is struggling in her final days with a body that is failing her, with pains and constant discomfort and with the concept that there is indeed an end to this life as we know it. She is afraid of what lies beyond and outside of herself.
There were times throughout her life when Grandma didn’t always make the best of decisions. Perhaps she thinks she is alone in her thoughts, her wishing she had done things differently. I want to tell her that she is not alone- that all of us have made mistakes. We all wish we could have done certain things differently at one time or another in our lives. I wish I could tell her that in the darkest days- even in dying, there is still an opportunity to make peace in the moment. Beyond us is an eternity of being that is incomprehensible, unexplainable and quietly waiting till the day we transition, but right now there is a wonderful, magical moment that is still ours and in this moment we can forgive ourselves as well as seek forgiveness from others.
The messages found in “Life Lessons” aren’t just meant for those experiencing loss and death. The lessons are very much meant for all who glimpse the possibilities of the greater good surrounding us. All we have is this moment, if we are fortunate we will have many moments ahead- but this isn’t guaranteed. There really isn’t any mystery to life; no great riddle to answer- no enigma beyond our comprehension if we take the time to be still and listen to the tiny voice within which is the collective answer to all our questions.
Watching Grandma in her finals days, witnessing my own father and sister suffering from ill health, observing a world that sometimes makes no sense whatsoever- all this that seems so sad and incomprehensible can be reconciled by choosing to see peace in the moment, by choosing to see divine order unfolding.
It doesn’t mean fully understanding the moment- it means choosing to see through the eyes of Mother Teresa who witnessed all about her, "the presence of Love in its many distressing disguises."