Being Busy Strategically
An excellent spiritual Halloween exercise is to visit your future gravesite or any cemetery, and realistically ponder your death. But you don’t have to go to a cemetery to meditate on dying; just open your eyes to see the homes and front yards of your neighborhood decorated with spider webs, tombstones and grim skeletons. This Mortuary Mardi Gras called Halloween, with all its razzamatazz of masks and costumes, is our way of joking with our greatest fear—death! Instead of treating these fake skeletons comically, in turn let them become symbols of your future fate!
Since childhood many of us have prayed, “Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” These words were usually said thoughtlessly at the end of a longer prayer, so consider this tale.
Thirty minutes from now you hear several loud knocks at
your front door. Opening the door, you find old bony Death!
Who of us wouldn’t say, “Oh, I am sorry Death, this isn’t a
good time! Not this hour—or any hour today—for I must attend
to unfinished business. I need to say an affectionate goodbye to
loved ones and I’ve a pocketful of nagging unspoken apologies.
Mr. Death, this really isn’t a convenient hour. Please come back
at another time.” But as a sharp, chilling wind swirls up orange
brown dead leaves around his bony legs, he smiles and beckons
with a skinny skeletal finger: “Friend, that hour you’ve praying
about for years and years, well this is it!”
Unless you’re in hospice care, no convenient hour exists to die. When that fateful hour comes will we say, as did Queen Elizabeth I, “All my possessions for a moment more of time.”
“Pray for us now and at the hour of our death” is a good prayer if it awakens you to get busy this very hour putting your affairs in order. It’s a beautiful prayer if it causes you to get busy making apologies to any you have wronged and also to invest each time you say “Goodbye” with all the love in your heart. The Prophet Mohammad wisely advised, “Die before you die.” Mohammad, along with history’s other great spiritual giants, knew dying wasn’t something you do at your last hour—it’s a way of life! It’s a lifestyle of dying to self to be available to others, dying to your own comfort so to comfort others, and of dying to old dogmatic beliefs so as to live new liberating ones.
The mother of Goethe, the German poet and creator of Faust, replied to an invitation to a party, “I am sorry I can’t attend, I am busy dying!” Let Frau Goethe inspire you today to imitate her by being busy dying.