Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meditation on Turning 80 in London

By John Shelby Spong

As I grew older, the present became increasingly where I wanted to live, not the future.  Meaning was found, life was lived and relationships were treasured in the present.  My family became more and more important to me.  Freeing people to be whole and to offer the gifts they have to offer, whether modest or impressive, became an essential mark of life.  Faith became existential not theoretical.  God became a living presence, not an external being.  Christ became a principle lived out fully in history by Jesus of Nazareth.  Christianity became a universal experience that crossed all boundaries.  Staying connected with old friends became an increasingly precious part of life.  Repairing broken relationships, where possible, became a priority and where it was not possible it helped simply to acknowledge my part in the brokenness.

I have never been one to speculate on the content of life after death, but I do trust it, feel it, and seek to live into it.  The only way I know how to prepare for life after death is to live deeply, richly and fully now, scaling life’s heights, plumbing life’s depths, risking love, affirming others and accepting differences. It is by living fully that I prepare for death.

St. Paul was wrong, death is not the last enemy to be defeated.  Death is a friend to be embraced.  Death adds zest and passion to life by forcing us to live and investing each moment with ultimacy. I thus never want to miss an opportunity to tell my wife how much I love her.  I live for the moments when my children or grandchildren call or when we visit.  I love to hear about their victories and defeats, their struggles and joys. I want to live every moment of the life that I have, but I also want to relinquish that life with grace and dignity when it is time to do so.


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