Are you ready to die?
I often ask myself this question. As a child I wondered about the vastness of the world and my complete obscurity compared to the billions of people who exist. I asked why life felt so unfair, almost left to fate – whether or not we would be born with the advantages of clean water, surplus food, a protected environment and strong genetics. After all, we aren’t given a choice what country we are born in and which parents we will have. Our lives seemingly feels like it’s left up to chance instead of choice.
I delved into a lot of depression thinking about very deep questions in my youth. Even today, I want to wake up feeling like there’s a purpose to why we exist. I want to know there’s something more beyond our robotic routine of working, eating, cleaning and/or caretaking. Were we really born just to simply die one day? And yet, I see death all the time. Every time I watch an elderly resident slowly pass away, when I witness one of my husband’s honeybees lay lifeless on the pavement or as our season transforms into fall – all of those dry leaves dropping represents a cycle in this life, a cycle that will one day represent the end of my life.
How humbling to realize that the moment we are born, we are already in the path to dying…
As I prepared for my recent Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land I was naturally concerned about the precautions of being around a war torn region. I thought about my children, my family and my work responsibilities, all things I lacked when I vicariously traveled internationally alone in my twenties. I weighed the possibilities and considered the media’s propensity to sensationalize stories. I asked if I would live in fear or live with bravery, knowing that the chances of me dying in a car was more plausible than my plane being hijacked while traveling to the Middle East. As I considered all the possibilities, I came down to the very question I ask myself every morning before my day begins…
Are you ready to die? If today was your last day here on earth, would you have any regrets? Did you strive for purpose, peace and progress? Did you teach your children faith, a belief set that will carry them through their toughest times, especially when the day comes when they can no longer reach out to you? Did you reconcile with all your foes and do the people you love, know undoubtedly that you love them? Lastly, did you utilize your in-born talents, a strength unique to your passion, to be of service to the world?
I said yes. And I consciously choose yes every day.
One of the hardest things coming back from a spiritual pilgrimage is knowing that the greatest war you will fight is between you and your ego. It’s hard not to look at the latest gadgets on TV, the beautiful people on magazines, the fit bodies on Instagram and the romantic relationships on Facebook, and not feel some insecurity about your lot in life. The truth of the matter is, is that none of this matters.
None of it.
Working in elderly care has blessed me with the unique perspective and ability to be a servant in the last living years of people’s lives. In the end, it’s not the fancy house, the newest fashions, the people who admire you or the car you drive that matters – it’s the passion, love and goodness you gave to the world that lasts, even passed your physical death.
It’s not what we take from this world that makes us eternal, it’s what we give.
In this (purposely) blurry picture, I am standing with an Iraqi nun whose family in Iraq was recently killed and beheaded by the Islamic Rebel group, ISIS. God Bless the Christians in the Middle East (and all religions) who are facing persecution.
We are standing in a church on top of Mount of Beatitudes, the place where Jesus delivered one of his famous sermons (Matthew 5:1-18). “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God….”
Inside the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem is the place where Mary gave birth to Jesus. (Luke 2:1-7)
Many people have asked how to book a trip to the Holy Land. My father and I chose to attend with Steve Ray (seen here pointing out the Holy steps that Jesus climbed when he was imprisoned the day before he died) whose tours are geared towards Catholics. Steve was a practicing Baptist before converting to Catholicism (we are all Christians FYI). You can read his amazing story here. Besides having a great biblical scholar host us, we attended Mass every day, walked the stations of the cross in Old Jerusalem and had a video crew film our entire journey. If you are interested in booking a tour with Steve (who I highly recommend) please click here, if you are interested in a non-denominational Christian tour click here.
This 1st century boat is AKA the Jesus Boat. In 1986, after several years of drought, the water level of the Sea of Galilee dropped. Two young men noticed the outline of a boat in the mud and discovered a 100 BCE fishing boat! Pretty incredible that this is the same (type) of boat Peter fished in. You can read more about this boat here.
This is the prison where Jesus was held captive during Holy Thursday, the day before he would be crucified the following day on Good Friday.
There was a point in the trip when we stood on a mountain at the Israeli border on a lookout overseeing Syria. Just a few days prior, rebels took over the city of Queneitra (seen here) and captured UN soldiers. We could actually see and hear gunfire and bombs. It was perhaps one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I really can’t look at life the same way after viewing the destruction of humanity right before me.
More pictures of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land can be seen on my Instagram.