One more day

04
Dec

Once upon a time there was a woman who was having some strange symptoms so she went to see her doctor. The doctor gave her this startling verdict: I’m very sorry to have to tell you this, but you have a terminal illness. You are dying. There isn’t really anything we can do to forestall the inevitable. You have very little time left to live now.The woman goes home in total shock over the news she has received. She feels a wave of emotions flow through her, but eventually, as she sifts through what she is feeling, she realizes that the strongest reaction she has is one of tremendous regret. She realizes now that in all the years of her life upon this earth she has never really truly lived. So it occurs to her, that here, in this late hour of her life, that she will make it her goal to live one day fully, engaged with her whole heart. She knows that up to this point she has never before done any such thing.

The next morning as she awakes, before moving out of her bed, she simply lies there and marvels at the simple fact of being alive. She knows she has taken being alive for granted; now, from the perspective of her diagnosis, she knows she can take it for granted no longer. She opens her eyes and sees things she has never noticed before: the way the morning sunlight comes shining through the window — how the dust particles float in that light like tiny galaxies.

The day proceeds and in certain ways it is no different from any other day she has lived: there are all the normal, mundane activities of living: the bathing, the dressing, the preparing of breakfast. And yet in certain ways it is altogether different this morning: in particular, there is this extraordinary focus of her attention. She experiences the sensation of the water washing over her body during her shower, the texture of her cotton dress upon her skin, the taste of her strawberry jam on her toast.

There are moments when she is aware of old familiar thought patterns attempting to take over her mind — old resentments and anxieties and obsessions and pettiness that in the past would have had their way with her — like wild horses taking her for a ride. But on this day she gently, but firmly tells these thought patterns that in no uncertain terms she has no time for them. She is determined on living this day fully.

Unwilling to be rushed, she becomes aware of a pervasive, underlying love present in every moment. In every experience — no matter how mundane — there is this heightened sense of the preciousness of it all brought home by the poignant realization that this would be one of the very last times she would have this particular experience. When she encounters the people whom she meets in the course of the day, she takes her time with each one of them, feeling a profound sense of love and gratitude for the mystery of who they are — their foibles and flaws now seeming not irritating as they had at times in the past, but rather as frailties that made them all the more endearing.

At the end of the day she feels a deep sense of peace in having lived a day so lovingly, tenderly, fully. She falls asleep with a bittersweet sense of being ready, if necessary, to die. She has truly seen her life in its fullness and embraced it with a sweet kiss. She is ready, should it be her time, to depart from this world with her heart wide open, ready to receive whatever comes next.

But in the night Jesus comes to her in a dream and says, “Good. Have one more day.” It is said that she heard Jesus say this to her each night for the next 46 years, until she died quietly in her sleep at the age of 97.

 

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