At the end of life: hospice and palliative care patients in their final day sometimes gain new clarity and insight. Australian nurse, Bonnie Ware, worked with many patients at the end of their lives. She asked them if they had any regrets or anything they would do differently. Five common themes surfaced again and again.
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."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." (See Guardian article HERE; Bonnie Ware's blog post is HERE.)In other words: they buried away a part of themselves. Each of these five most common regrets involve burying a part of the self: the person you truly are, the playful person, the person who expresses real feelings, the person who maintains long-term friendships, the happy person. For Easter, I invite you to reflect: What part of yourself has been laid away in a tomb? What heart’s yearning got nailed to a cross of familiarity? What longing for wholeness and connection withered away in public view? What is your passion’s passion story?
We might find elements of our own story in each of the four Gospel passion stories.
In The Gospel According to Mark, there are three women:
"Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome." (16:1a)They had
“bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.” (16:1b)There is a tone of concern about how they are going to pull this off:
“They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?' When they looked up, they saw that the stone which was very large, had already been rolled back.” (16:3-4)That’s not good. What are they walking into here? Have the Romans laid a trap to arrest more of the rebel Jesus’ followers?
“As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.” (16:5)Is he secret police? Is he a Roman agent?
“But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.’” (16:6)These words do not reassure the three women. They turn and run away from this creepy guy.
“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” (16:8)That’s how the Gospel of Mark ends: right there, with three scared women running away. They don’t tell anyone; no one else comes to check out the tomb. End of story. Most Bibles include a few more verses, which scholars say were added later. Originally, the Gospel of Mark ends starkly -- in uncertainty and fear. The last three words of the Gospel are, “they were afraid.”
Maybe the ethical movement founded by Jesus will continue. Yet it’s clear that fear of political repression will be an ongoing reality for that movement.
Next: Matthew and Luke.
Photos by mayeesherr
* * *
This is part 2 of 5 of "The Meadow For Metaphor"
Part 1: Four Easter Stories
Part 3: Matt & Luke
Part 4: You are Mary
Part 5: True Stories