In 2005 the Empress of Iran, Farah Pahlavi wrote a book entitled “An Enduring Love”, a memoir of her life which I found very moving. After reading it I wrote Her Majesty a letter. A month or so later I returned from my monthly trip to the Saints Mary and Martha Monastery, poured myself a bourbon and started tackling the day’s accumulated emails. The phone rang. Now normally I screen all my calls with the answering machine to see if it is a call I need to take right away or if I can get to it later. For some reason that day I absent mindedly picked up the phone!
“Is Father James Bohlman there?”
“Father James. This is Farah Pahlavi.”
What had been an ordinary day in my endless round of duties suddenly became what I forever remember as “The day I spoke for ten minutes on the phone with the Empress of Iran!” While this extraordinary occurrence seared that day into my memory, one not likely to ever be forgotten, all my days are not so notable! We all get so used to living out each day that we become numb to the ordinary things and relationships actually occurring while we are taking our life’s journey. If we live out our days on automatic pilot then the day arrives when we suddenly ask ourselves the mystified question, “How did I get this way?” We have all had the experience of searching for something, looking here, there, everywhere and yet just can’t find the item! Later when you’re not looking for it suddenly there it is… right where you had looked and yet did not see! The issue of life and death is like that… never be so focused on avoiding what distresses us that we overlook what is actually in front of us!
Life is about embracing and not avoiding! What we embrace becomes part of us, part of our story and part of our journey. What we avoid leaves us blind! One of the issues some seek to avoid dealing with is that of death. The problem with this approach is if we can’t accept the reality of death then chances are we will live out our life in fear of losing anything or anyone that is precious to us! Living in fear is not living! For each person the experience of death, whether one’s own or that of a loved one, is always personal and private. It is a coming-to-terms with that transition point between being corporeal and being eternal. If we can’t accept the reality of death as part of life then the chances are good we will also be afraid to live too fully lest we somehow lose life! Such a refusal to face reality is the source of much of our pain!