We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto, I thought as we soared over the magical, red-soiled landscape and the ocean. I felt myself relax a bit. The decision to come was not an easy one. Choosing between two goods has always been my downfall but I have become much better at trusting my discernment. Last night at the hospital, I had anointed my father’s head with blessed oil and prayed over him. He fell into a very deep sleep for my remaining time sitting beside his bed. Only when I got up to kiss him goodbye and leave did he seem a bit agitated. His night nurse and I had been talking about my trip previous to that. I had told him that I would be gone a week but I am not sure that he will remember. I explained that his sister would be in for the remainder of this week and then his son and daughter-in-law would arrive after that.
I had been praying about whether to cancel the trip or not. I finally settled on shortening it. Because of my own unpredictable timeline, I am faced with the decision that at another time would have been very easy to make. There are some things that I still want to do on my life list and there are memories that I want to create with friends. I hope that I have chosen the greater good – a shorter trip, the opportunity to check off provinces 9 and 10 (the final two) as having visited, and the chance to create some awesome memories with a dear friend. Somewhere over the weekend the angst shifted. I was able to find peace that if Dad were to pass away while I am not there, I will see him soon enough for eternity. I could be wrong, but I also feel serene enough that I suspect he will welcome me home or at the very least has given me permission to go and to be free of any guilt. We have had this conversation in the past and so I trust this feeling.
Dad had had no seizures in the past 24 hours which made the leaving easier. He is not by any means out of the woods yet and many decisions will still have to be made. I think that my body needed a break though and it will find that here in the beautiful surroundings of this tiny province. I look forward to exploring it on my own these next couple of days.
God has a way of letting me know when I cannot use good discernment. On the first leg of the tourney, the in-flight video system was down. I would probably have watched a movie otherwise. I had actually fallen asleep prior to even leaving the gate because I was so tired. Hence, I missed the announcement. I pulled out a book that I had brought along with me and read until the flight attendant reached me with the beverage and snack cart. She smiled and repeated the earlier message before recommending that I just keep reading. I actually chose to sleep. During the second half of the journey, I watched a film that I had sort of wanted to see but did not in theatres: Me Before You. It is a controversial film about a man who decides after an accident that leaves him as a quadriplegic to opt for a medically assisted death.
I could not help but think of Dad as I watched the film. Dad might well survive the seizures but his life could possibly be quite diminished by some people’s standards. It is too early to tell yet. Both his body and mind may betray him but does that mean he does not yet have a purpose in our world? Even when he is confused, you can still make me laugh. Even when he has not been lucid for long periods, my father suddenly appears and his goodness warms my heart. I also think of my own end-of-life experience. I have no idea what that will look like – this disease can take on many forms in its final stages. As my body fails me, will I be considered useless? We live in a society that does not know how to live with brokenness. We do not understand that we are in fact more than our bodies and our minds. We may not always understand our purpose when life suddenly changes for us, but somehow I believe that in my case God is working out a plan that I do not understand that I trust.
What I found most intriguing about this film is how the young woman hired to work with the quadriplegic decided that she would teach him how beautiful life is and how worth living it is. In the end, this would be the lesson he would teach her. Live well, he encourages her. How many of us miss our lives? How many of us don’t know that each and every day presents us with so many goods to choose from that narrowing it down to two can be next to impossible? What if we just threw ourselves into life with such passion, abandonment and joy that every day was an awesome day? I did not just arrive on this tiny island province as one of the final two places in Canada to visit. I have been traveling this vast country for decades, checking off each one, hoping to see them all. I won’t make all three territories at this point but I am glad to have been to the north and seen one of them with its spectacular splendour, fascinating culture, and welcoming people. I can truly say that I have been from sea to shining sea and I am a proud Canadian who loves her country fiercely.
Live well, my friends. Create a life where you always have many goods to choose from and between. Grab a hold of the life that you have been given and make it meaningful. Explore cultures beyond your own and you will become an open-minded person. Meet people who are not like you and you may see something that you wish to aspire to. Soak yourself in beauty so that your soul knows the majesty it deserves. Push past your comfort zones so that you can never complain about being bored or let fear keep you constrained. You were born to praise, honour and serve. Choose wisely. Choose life. Choose to live an extraordinary life in whatever circumstances you find yourself. Do not wait until it is too late.
If you could do one thing in your life and there were no restrictions, what would it be? Why? Why are you waiting?
Do you believe that your life has a purpose?
Life-Giver, show me how to use my life for your glory all the days that I have breath. Do not let me hold back out of fear or unworthiness. Let me serve you through all that I do and in all whom I meet. Allow me to be open to seeing the lessons you want to me to learn from others. May I choose to use the gift of life in a way that shows others how beautiful that choice is. Amen.