Lessons in Life and Death

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There are two shores, one near and one far. On each shore there are people. At one shore there is a huge ocean liner that leaves and is headed out to sea. The people watch this huge vessel as it becomes smaller and smaller in the distance. Finally, it is but a pin point as they blink and it disappears. One person says to the others, “There she goes.”

On the other shore there are people. In the far off distance they see something like a black pinpoint on the sea. They rub their eyes and it appears larger. Soon the ocean liner gets bigger and bigger until one person says to another, “Here she comes!”

This is how it is when we lose a loved one. We are all saying, “There she goes.” But, heaven is saying, “Here she comes!!!” Phyllis Wall

I still remember the fateful day; it was a Tuesday around 4.30pm. I received a call from my dear friend Jane informing me of the death of friend and brother, Moses. We were both planning to visit him at the hospital when the news of his demise reached us. In my grief, I pondered lots of questions. “Why did it have to be him of all people?”  He was just fourteen years old, with a bright future ahead of him; too young to have his life cut short.

The untimely death of loved ones is one of the tragedies of everyday life. You and I probably know someone who passed away in the blink of an eye; some young, others old, our friends, relatives, and the list goes on. Such is the reality of our existence. We are all passengers on this big boat called Life, and one day (who knows what day?); we have to get off while the rest continue along the journey. In Moses’ death, I learned three life lessons, which I hope you find useful in your life:

First, we should learn to tell our parents, brothers, sisters, friends, relatives how much we love, cherish, and appreciate them. Besides telling them how we feel about them, we should also reinforce kind words with deeds. It is quite typical at funerals to hear outstanding eulogies for the deceased, but I always wonder how many people actually cared to let their dearly departed know how much they loved and valued them while they were alive. We tend to wait until they are dead before we begin to proclaim their praises. Unfortunately, dead people don’t hear or speak or appreciate what we do after they are gone. Tell that person whom you love and appreciate what you would say at their funeral while they are still alive. Don’t procrastinate, you might never get another opportunity to do so.

Secondly, if you are given the chance to make a difference in any body’s life, please do so today and not tomorrow. Of what use is it to have excess food at your home, and yet your neighbor is in need of a morsel of bread. Use all the opportunities God has given you today to have an impact on someone’s life other than yourself. Unfortunately, we often tend to appreciate people most when they are gone. That must change.

Finally, I beg you to ask yourself this question: “When I pass away, what will people say of me?” I remember a story my teacher told me about a funeral she attended. She related that some sympathizers were invited to give testimonies about the deceased man, but everyone kept on beating about the bush, as they were hesitant. To cut a long story short, this man had lived a very selfish life. No one knew him for anything positive, and in order to avoid embarrassing the poor wife and family, no one said anything good or bad. Brethren, we ought to remember to live a life of purpose and do our best to leave a positive imprint in the lives of those around us.

On one end of the pendulum life springs up in the form of a newborn child, on the other end death occurs and a soul departs. The distance between life and death is but a brief moment in time. With the stroke of a pendulum, life can be swiftly lost. While we are alive, let us conquer death by building a strong faith in Christ. The greatest service we can do for the departed is to pray for their souls. Ask God to forgive their sins and receive them into His eternal kingdom. And for us the living, life is to be spent for the good of others. “Let no man seek his own—but every man another’s welfare” (Corinthians 10:24). Make use of your life in every sense of the word, understanding that your pendulum can swing towards death at any moment. And if it should, in what state do you want it to find you?

P.S. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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About the Author:

Brother Cho Nchang is a young and enthusiastic Marist Brother, who is dedicated to serving God and encouraging people to believe in themselves. He lives in Nairobi, Kenya. Connect with him here: Cho Nchang

The Simplicity in Life

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“A picture is worth a thousand words,” they say.

This is a Pulitzer prize-winning picture by American photojournalist Kevin Carter depicting a moment that characterized the famine in Sudan. The child is painstakingly making her way to a food camp while the vulture patiently waits for the child to die so that it can eat her. Shortly after the picture appeared in the New York Times, Kevin Carter committed suicide due to depression.

My intent is neither to create shock nor to invoke the inevitable sense of remorse or sympathy that any compassionate human being should feel. This child’s condition is not your fault, nor is it mine. I simply want to drive home a point. Sometimes in life, we feel overwhelmed:  the work, the school, the bills, the bad relationships ad infinitum. When all the problems seem to converge on us, when it seems like everything that can go bad does go bad, when we find ourselves falling into an abyss of despair – it is in moments like these that we need to take a step back and realize that in spite of everything, we are blessed. We are blessed with access to food, water and shelter, three basic and natural resources found on this earth to which every man, woman and child is entitled. We need to dwell on the positives in our lives to overcome struggles and always thank The Lord for the things we take for granted. It is incumbent on us to pray for children like this girl whose only crime against humanity was being born into such conditions of abject poverty. It is indeed incumbent on us all to pray that she may get the opportunity to worry, like other girls, about a broken heart; that she gets the chance to start a family of her own, that she ultimately finds happiness, whether in this life or the next. It is the least we can do – in fact, it just may be the most.

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About the Author:

Dr. Edmond Fomunung is a young medical doctor, but is also a man of many cares. He has a zeal for empathy and solidarity, and is always looking to make a difference in the lives of others beyond their physical well being, but in all aspects of their lives.  A graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Dr. Fomunung is currently doing his residency at the Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Connect with him here: Edmond Fomunung