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Testimony of a Dying Man

Last night a friend of me sent something to me from a friend of his who is dying. I don’t know the man who wrote this personally and his name is intentionally being kept anonymous, though I did get permission through my friend to post this testimony of the last days of this man’s life.

I’m thankful to this anonymous man, a former minister himself,  for the opportunity to share this very short but very touching part of his life with my readers.

It is often said that we unbelievers will find ourselves quick to repentance at the end of our days, grasping fearfully at the prospect of eternity. Here, proof otherwise.

Testimony of a Dying Man.

15 years ago I missed a turn and drove off a 30 foot cliff knowing absolutely that I would not survive when it was over.  I had often wondered through the years what I would say or do when facing certain death and I found out at that time. My wife was riding with me and as we went airborne I heard myself say “oh, sweetheart”… In that short moment airborne… And utter complete mental silence.  8 feet of snow saved our lives a second later.

A week ago I was scheduled for a gallbladder x-ray to confirm the presence of a problem which could be surgically removed… Perhaps even that same day.  Unexpected phone silence ensued.  My spirit began to open to other unexpected possibilities and to ready itself for whatever it may be.  My Catholic upbringing had instilled the concepts of sin, salvation, resultant heaven hell and purgatory.  My 44 year search since leaving that world view had exposed me to alternatives of every age of mankind.  During that 44 year search I have often wondered if, when faced with an ultimate certainty of death in the near future, would I resort to the old paradigm or could I bring forward and live within what I had found in the meantime…. For within the last year of my life I have arrived at a silent and deep knowingness that taking evolutionary cosmology to the deepest emotional level gave me the foundation I never found in an anthropomorphic God structure…. But I always had a slight wonder, “is it only conceptually deep?”

Five days ago, I and my wife listened to the words on the speakerphone as she sat opposite me and she later said that when I heard the words she saw a huge transformation of calmness and clarity come over me….”You have inoperable metastasized liver cancer, and may expect two months at the outside”.  And in the five days since that news I have experienced a calmness and centeredness such as religious faith had never provided.  I have found a sense of place and process within the world view of evolutionary cosmology such as I have searched for relentlessly in my 77 years…. And it is increasingly feeding my spirit daily with a sense of readiness for every present moment in this process of dying.

I am finally really learning how to live in the moment.  Fear and hope have no place in this process. It is a readiness and willingness of an utterly deep knowingness.

Farewell. We truly all are in this together.

 

Tragedy sans God

Prior to last week I had never been to a funeral for a friend.

I’ve been to funerals of course;  when the parents of one of my friends died and they needed my support, or when an inlaw died in support of my wife.  This was the first time since I was probably 8 years old that someone that I called a friend, or someone I cared about directly died.

It feels different, emptier, and it makes me think about the brevity of my own life.

I’ve been mulling this over a great deal since it happened.

Then, today – December 14, 2012 – something like 20 elementary school kids get killed in a school shooting in Connecticut.

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Facing the Reality of Death

Death, for believers from many different faiths, is a new beginning. Death is the  point in which your deeds and dedication to your god begin to be rewarded and for many it is something to look forward to.  I overhear Christians talking about the joys of heaven fairly frequently, at funerals I hear pastors talk about how much better off the deceased are than those of us left here grieving.

Losing faith comes with many difficult trials for most.  Facing the reality of death is one of those trials, coming to grips with the knowledge that what you once looked forward to may be the absolute end of your existence entirely. Recognizing this can be painful and scary not only when we consider our own lifespan but also of those we love.

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Frigga asks: Death and The Afterlife-An Atheists Perspective

Frigga responded to my last call for a muse with a question….I thought it was broad enough to make a short post about, thanks Frigga for the inspiration!

Frigga says:

I’m curious what your thoughts are on Afterlife.  What do you think happens?  What do most atheists think happens?  What do your others readers think happens?  Do you believe in near death experiences?  How about ghosts?

when-death-comesThe afterlife is one of those things where I can definitively say I don’t have an answer…I can even definitively say that NO ONE has an answer…I just don’t think it is possible, but I have thought about it before…of course. When I was a Christian I would often ponder about heaven and just how close I could be to God if he would allow me, I was convinced that heaven was a reality and that my seeking God on earth would help me be closer to him one day. Now that I have rejected that view of life it feels kind of silly to think about heaven and hell…so I generally don’t.

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