Awful Grace

By | June 7, 2014

Well the big news here is that the very kind folks at Pilgrim Press have graciously agreed to publish my book. This August, What the Dying Have Taught Me about Living: The Awful Amazing Grace of God will be available at a bookstore near you (or at least Amazon).

The basic premise of the book (hence the paradoxical title) is that often the most difficult times in our lives can be the most grace filled – the times where we actually learn and grow the most as human beings. Based on this theme, the book relates encounters I have had over the past nine years as a chaplain.

So what I have learned? One of my patients asked me this earlier this week when I told her about the book. In a nutshell here is what the dying have taught me: cultivate gratitude, surrender to reality, and shower the people you love with love.

The use of the word “cultivate” is important. A very wise man taught “We reap what we sow.” And gratitude is magnetic. I have learned that those who can cultivate gratitude continue to find more things to be grateful for. Conversely, those who cultivate ingratitude seem to find more things to bitch about. The choice of attitude is ours – and that choice makes all the difference in the state of our own happiness.

By “surrender to reality” I mean accepting things as they really are not as we wish them to be. (Now realize I am talking in an end-of- life context.) The folks who refuse to accept their terminal situation generally have more pain and chaos as the end draws near. Accepting reality, living in the moment, savoring each precious second of life is rich living indeed.

And then there’s the wisdom of James Taylor, “shower the people you love with love.” At the end of the day, or life, there’s really nothing more important than this. Of the more than 1,000 folks I’ve journeyed with who have died, I have never yet had one tell me, “Boy, I wish I’d have watched more football.” or “If I could have only spent more time on line.” or “I shouldn’t have goofed off so much and spent more time at the office.” Never heard any of those. What I do hear often, is how many folks long to have had more time with their loved ones and the desire to have told them more clearly how much their love meant.

So, instead of simply waiting until August when you can purchase your own copy of this incredibly insightful and touching book – why not begin to insert these three lessons into your living now?

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