What would you do if you knew that you only had one year left to live? Would you make some changes? Maybe, shake up your schedules a bit? Do some things you have been putting off, thinking you would have time later to do them? Or, would you pretty much do what you have always done? Keep things the way they have been as long as possible? You know, make everything seem normal, so everyone won’t treat you differently?
These are real life questions that people everywhere, across the globe, are experiencing even right now. Each one of us could very well find ourselves caught up in just those kinds of questions at some point in our lives. Someone somewhere, perhaps even someone you know, is moving through that experience even as I write this. That someone could be very close to you. It could even be you or me.
What would you do, if you knew you only had one year to live?
Recently, I committed myself to one year of proactive renewal and deep, introspective work. I am inspired to this decision because of the book, A Year To Live: How to Live This Year As If It Were Your Last, by Dr. Stephen Levine. The introspective investigation I have undertaken has resulted in me asking myself, “What would I do if I only had one year to live?“ In following that question, my journey has become a quest for me to ask deeper questions about the nature of my being, and my life. Who am I? How am I living my life?
What follows is a little glimpse into my experience, and reveals some of the questions I have been considering at a deeper, more authentic place in my soul. I am asking earnestly, and awakening my consciousness to my soul’s responses. It is my quest to continue walking this path of inquiry, to gain spiritual understanding and strengthen my skills for discernment.
Who Am I?
I truly believe I am a spiritual being having a spiritual experience in a physical world. I am a child of the One Power in the Universe, God the good. My heart knows that my true essence never dies. I am learning that who I am “being” in my life is actually easy to discern. All I have to do is observe what I am repetitively “doing” in my life.
How Am I Living My Life?
- I continue to live and practice Unity’s 5 Principles.
- I stay closely connected to the truth within me through affirmative prayer and meditation.
- I consciously listen to my heart more than my analytical mind, knowing that love will always reveal the true way for me to grow.
- I remember that I always have a choice to choose the love of my heart, or the fear of my ego.
- I demonstrate to the best of my ability that the Kingdom of God is within me, and it is within me now in this very moment.
- I willingly follow the great way-shower, Jesus, with an earnest heart.
What Would I Do Differently In This “One Year” Left To Live?
- I desire to organize and minimize the possessions in my life. Clean out my closets. Get my photo albums in order. Minimize my possessions. Make sure all my paperwork is complete, and its whereabouts known.
- I surrender to a deeper experiential knowing of the “Kingdom within” my very own being.
- I nurture and grow the servant’s heart that dwells within my being.
- I forgive myself and release all of my shame and guilt for the ways in which I have disappointed myself and others.
- I forgive all others and explore the incidents in my life where I may have felt like someone’s victim, or a victim to something.
- I find peace by freeing myself from any grudges or grievances I have held against myself and others.
- I make a list of those against whom I still harbor and hold anger, and consciously release it so that I may experience peace instead.
- I search for and identify anything that drives my need to control that which frightens me.
Forgiveness Is The Gateway To Peace
These kinds of questions and affirmative responses are at the heart of my “one year to live” journey. Each one of them, in their own way, has led me to a spiritual gate that is impossible to go around, or bypass. The only way through the gate is to assume responsibility for the deeper work of Spirit that only I can do for me. Below are some observations and truths that I have learned in the process
- This gate is named, FORGIVENESS.
- If I try to open the gate without doing the forgiveness work, the gate does not budge.
- On the other side of the gate is a beautiful peace that can only be experienced by me as a result of my own forgiveness.
- If I do not do the forgiveness work necessary, my quest to understand what is mine to do will fall short, and the peace I most deeply desire will evade me.
My first thought is go read a book, find a friend, take a class on how to open the gate, and then I realize the answer is truly in me – and no one can open the gate of forgiveness for me. However, once I have forgiven, the gate will open before me and peace is mine.
My Peace Begins With Me
So the deeper conversations around my personal peace begin with me. If I am not at peace, chances are good I need to forgive. But, what have I not yet forgiven? What hidden shame do I still carry? What have I pretended to forgive, yet, have not really forgiven? How many masks have I worn pretending I forgave when actually I was just masquerading forgiveness, while harboring resentment? How often have I blocked the free flow of God’s love by not forgiving myself or others? The question is no longer “Am I afraid of dying”? But rather, why would I continue for an instant longer to keep myself from the fullness of God’s love?
These are the real questions I am asking myself in this quest. I am now awakened to the truth that my peace begins with me. It is my responsibility. I am on the path, and standing at the gate. This time, I choose to walk through it, and I forgive. I touch the gate and it opens with grace and ease. I enter into the Kingdom of Heaven within me into the grace of unconditional love. And there, the long-awaited peace of God enfolds me.