What Really Matters?
By Rev. Paul V. Scholl

One of the most difficult things for us to do as human beings is to constantly prioritize for ourselves just what is really important.

It can change daily, hourly, and often when caring for a loved one, minute by minute. Long range life plans can come to seem so insignificant. What was planned for the day when we first arose from our bed can be stopped with the ring of a telephone.

We like to think of ourselves as having it all under control, finances in order, on a career path, a pleasant home, strong relationships and emotionally erect. When we truly admit it to ourselves, we are just a work in progress working towards those goals, but really we are all quite a mess. If we were to pass in a moments notice it would probably prove be a burden to someone and we would not be a nice, neat little package of which we would be proud. Until others remember how we have loved.

For those who have either in the past, or are currently caring for someone coming to their life’s end, the questions seem to come faster than we can even articulate them, let alone be able to answer them. Perhaps that is the reason we simply ask "Why?"

Become, for just a few moments, that person whom you love facing death. Imagine what they must be thinking. What questions are they asking themselves? What happens if? When will it happen? Will I be in pain? Who will be with me?

Living, and dying, comes down to a few simple truths. One, I believe, is "What Do You Believe in?" If one can answer that with conviction and sincerity, love and peace are not far behind. When serving someone who faces death or great crisis it is important first to know what you believe in, then you can help them find their own truth within that same question. A part of life’s path is to find out just what we believe in. A part of death’s path is to realize it as our personal truth.

What forms the foundation for your life? What is it that truly brings you joy? What is it that you love to do that brings out real enjoyment in your life? What really matters right now? These are not only questions for us, but form the basis for wonderful conversation and communication with someone with a terminal illness. When you find yourself struggling to find the words, in fear of asking the wrong things, embarrassed to be afraid or weak, try asking them of your loved one. You will be surprised at the answers and honesty you will receive.

In one of our volunteer training sessions we show a video interview from a minister facing a terminal disease. In this video he talks about how to make choices about things in his daily life. His example of buying strawberries "even at $4.99 a basket, I buy ‘em!" rings clearly of what brings him enjoyment, no matter the cost. If you had only six months to live would you choose not to buy fresh and ripened strawberries because they were $4.99 and not $2.99? What really matters?

Life is not easy, but it is beautiful. Death is not easy, but it can prove to be sublime. With either, it is common to be caught up in the noise, the motion, the whirling humanity about us and forget what is important, to show others how we love them. The first step is to stop and find our bearings. The second is to listen with attention. The third is to find the courage and compassion to love without limits, as we would want others to love us.


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