How to Treat the Dying(Living)

There is a man at my work, an incredibly nice man, an attractive, manly, older man, a man who I would say would be my picture of Jesus, if he had lived to be in his sixties. This man was diagnosed with cancer a couple days ago .

The staff got together at 10:30 this morning to pray for him. Almost the entire office showed up. It was a humbling, peaceful, and yet somehow, there was joy there. I was humbled as I remembered this man’s kindness to me on my first week on the job, and I was humbled as I sat with great men and women of faith in this mini concert of prayer, and I was humbled as I realized we were in the presence of God, presenting our requests to Him, and thanking Him for all He has done.

The tone was a one of quiet assurance; faith in a good God, that listens. There were jokes thrown about beforehand and afterwards. It was like everyone knew why they were there, but we also knew who to turn to. We weren’t hopeless, or fearful, but appreciative.

Later, I was in the lunchroom toasting a bagel when this kind man came in. I smiled, I was polite, but I didn’t initiate conversation. His aforementioned kindness to me was actually in a very similar situation, where he initiated an introduction in the lunchroom, since we hadn’t previously been introduced. Today again, I made a few comments about my toast, as did he, but it was barely even small talk.

I felt conflicted.

I began justifying my actions, “I don’t know him very well. Maybe I can just get away with him thinking I’m quiet. Which is true, when I don’t know someone very well.”

But then my conscience asked, “Well, shouldn’t you step out of your comfort zone? After all, he could probably use some kindness, his life is extra precious right now – we don’t know how long it’ll last! And you want him to feel appreciated, right?”

Well, then, of course, C. S. Lewis, or the Holy Spirit, or something, prompted me to ask the question, “Aren’t we all dying? Aren’t all our lives unforeseeably short? Shouldn’t I treat him with the kindness I think he deserves, and carry that one to the next individual I meet as well?”

Can you imagine what kind of paradigm shift that would be? If I treated people with the compassion that comes with assuming their life is short? Or if I believed I could actually change someone’s life by being kind, or outgoing, or just talking with them?

I would like to see myself become that person. Tomorrow would be nice.

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