“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”—Woody Allen
I rarely turn to Woody Allen for spiritual direction. Although, I’ve always been convinced that Jesus, a Jew, probably looked more like Woody Allen than the light-haired, blue-eyed Jesus we’ve come to know.
And even though Woody’s quote about death reflects his typical Jewish angst, death had me, also, in the amen corner for a while.
It’s not that I was terrified about what’s beyond this earthly experience, I just wasn’t eager to leave those I loved and all that was familiar—and ok, maybe I was a little afraid.
Just as information, I had a fundamentally different start in life than the “fundamental” pit stop I made as an adult might have indicated.
My parents were Christian Scientists—readers in the church. So, each Sunday in the 1950s, they played spiritual badminton on the stage, lobbing quotes back and forth from the Bible and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy.
I was in the congregation, sitting upright in a hard-backed, wooden chair, with my best Sunday attire and my best behavior on display, marinating in the teaching that God is Love.
Unfortunately, there weren’t many children in our Christian Science church—it was a pretty old crowd. So I secretly wanted to be with my friends in the big Baptist church across town—the one with the 30 foot replica of Jesus out front—outlined in neon.
Some thirty years later, as an adult, I was no longer a visitor but a card-carrying member of a Baptist church. No colorful, neon Jesus beckoned me there, only the black-and-white assurance of a doctrine that allowed me for a time to sit in a haze of perceived Biblical security.
In my Baptist paradigm, if it had to confront the reality of death, I figured I had all the important details covered. I’d walked an aisle, accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior—I was baptized and bonafide. In short, I was good to go. My spiritual bags were packed and it was “Heaven or Bust.”
As I came out of that spiritual coma and my ability to embrace the notion of an angry, capricious God became more and more untenable, I was drawn back to my earlier concepts of a loving Creator of the Universe.
It was no accident, of course, that the Center came into my experience at just that time.
Several years ago, when a doctor’s breast cancer diagnosis came with the unrelenting reality of my mortality, I faced, for the first time in my life, the real possibility of my own death.
The Center’s teachings have taken me back to my own foundations and have been profound in reconnecting me to the God and the Good within and in my shifting from seeing death—or life—as something to fear.
Make no mistake, I’m not ready to die yet—there are still things lots of things I want to do.
So I got a second opinion from a new doctor, Dr. Chris Michaels, who says that I get to have a say in when I exit the planet! And, as a bonus, I have the awareness that regardless of any earlier diagnosis, I am whole, perfect and complete—and well!
I don’t HAVE cancer, and it doesn’t HAVE me! I’m letting the American Cancer Society have cancer.
While Woody Allen may still be wringing his hands about whether he’ll have to be present when he dies, I know that God is Love and there’s nothing to fear.
We are gonna be there when we make our transition, and it’s gonna be a fabulous adventure.