An Australian nurse, Bonnie Ware, worked in palliative care for several years, caring for patients in the final months of their lives. She has written about what she learned from those patients, and the phenomenal clarity many people gain at the end of their lives. When she asked them if they had any regrets or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Five such themes were most common. (See Guardian article here; Bonnie Ware's blog post is here.)
Most commonly, they say, “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Second, almost all the men and many of the women said, “I wish I hadn't worked so hard.”
Third, “I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.”
"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."Fourth, “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
Fifth, “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
"Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."So I ask again, what part of you seems laid in the tomb? What heart’s yearning is nailed to a cross of familiarity? What longing for wholeness and connection has withered away in public view? What is the passion story of your passion? Go and look.
Of course, you will think, “my god, there’s no way I can roll back that stone.” Go and look.
Go by yourself in the predawn dark.
Go with a single friend.
Go with two friends.
Go with a group of supportive presences as the day dawns and the sunlight begins.
When you get there, you will see
the stone obstacle you feared is rolled back.
Peer into the darkness of your interior.
The part of you that you long for,
the part you thought was dead,
is not there in that place where dead things lie.
You cannot take my word for this.
You cannot know it until you go and look for yourself.
Be still and quiet and look.
Easter morning is a metaphor for every morning.
Every morning, take some time to be still and quiet and look.
Notice every part of you. They’re all still there, still alive.
Start each day with the first-hand experience that the tomb is empty.
The you that you long for is not sealed up in there.
So where is it?
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Part 5 of "What's the Meadow For?"
Next: Part 6: "You Are Risen"
Previous: Part 4: "John's Easter Story. And Yours."
Beginning: Part 1: "Easter Stories"