My Dad is dying, transitioning to the next life. Diagnosed with colon cancer almost two years ago, the cancer metastasized to the liver. He is drained and weak. Having lived a healthy life before his diagnoses two years ago, hospice tells us that his journey to the next life is taking time. Dad thought he would die two months ago. He is ready. Dad has active signs of transitioning with one foot in this world and another foot in the next life. He does not need heavy pain medication. He is calm and at peace.
One day this week Dad was in “another world”. He talked freely to me about going up a mountain. His eyes opened wide in wonder, he nodded to people along the way, saying “hello” and asked me if I knew them. I stretched to hear him and wanted to see what he saw. But I could not. I am not transitioning to the next life. I only knew of his experience through him. At times Dad grew impatient because I could not see what he saw. I asked him to describe what he was seeing. His face lit up as he described his mountain experience, “Big and beautiful” he exclaimed excitedly.
I marveled at this experience even as it brought home once again Dad’s imminent passing. Dad’s body is drained from the cancer, yet his spirit soared as he talked animatedly about the beautiful that surrounded him. He mentioned how everyone got along and made way for him. There was no animosity. There was plenty of room for everyone.
As I reflected on this experience, I thought about the beautiful that surrounds us. Do we always see the beautiful around us? Often the beautiful is right here but we miss it for many reasons. The Gospel of Mark ( 6:1-6 ) from the Christian scriptures emphasizes that often we miss the gifts and beautiful of those closest to us.
Jesus grew in understanding of the tremendous gifts given to him. He nurtured those gifts eager to share them with those around him. Those around him were amazed at his wisdom and the goodness he shared. They noted that he was the son of Mary and Joseph, hard-working people. Yet, they took offense at him. The Gospel passage expresses Jesus’ sense of life, “a prophet is not without honor except in his/her native place and among his/her own kin and in his/her own house.” So his gifts were not accepted in his hometown. He could not believe their lack of faith because he knew the gifts were from God.
How many times do we miss the gifts of those around us? In doing so we miss the “big and beautiful” aspects of life that are there for all of us to see. Can’t we see it? What keeps us from seeing and acknowledging the gifts of family, community, co-workers, parish members? Is it jealously, envy, lack of confidence, control or fear? Why is it that a prophet is not recognized in his or her own land?
Our invitation is to stretch beyond our human limitations to embrace the beautiful in all that is part of our lives. In this way we further embrace the Divine Spirit within and around.
Blessings and peace