Friday, July 12, 2013
Death and Life
I had a really interesting conversation last night with an incredible group of incoming Wartburg students. We were sitting around at a welcome event hosted by Spiritual Life and Campus Ministry and they started asking me the most amazing questions about why I became a Pastor and what such a life is like. Eventually we got on the topic of their own hopes and fears and I was absolutely blown away by their honesty and insightfulness.
At one point we were talking about a great class that my colleague Pastor Ramona teaches called "Living with Death". All of the students I hoped to one day take the course, and one young woman even admitted that she's terrified of dying. We had a great talk about why we fear death, the hope of the Gospel, and fear of the unknown.
Today I came across this article from a Hospice Nurse who shares the top five regrets of the dying patients she's worked with over the years. Nothing terribly surprising but I was intrigued by how many regrets had to do with going along with the expectations of others rather than living the lives we are meant to lead.
I'm so glad that I had that conversation with our new students. Moments like that remind me why I do what I do. I'm also glad for that conversation because these students are thinking about big questions even before officially starting College. That bodes well for the future.
I don't know that we ever get over the fear of death, but having fewer regrets seems to be a good place to start. If I could give one piece of advice to all our incoming students (and to myself) it would be to listen...truly listen...to the person God created you to be. There are so many voices competing for attention in our lives, both those of others and our own. It's hard to step back and listen for who we really are when you're worried about finding a job and living the American dream. And yet if we don't it's even harder to choose the things that matter.
One of my favorite quotes about vocation comes from Parker Palmer's book "Let Your Life Speak". He says "“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” I can't wait for another year of listening with students to our lives and what they are telling us about who we are.
Who knows...maybe knowing our mortality is the best way to live a better life?