Thursday, January 05, 2006

Defining Yourself

If you want to really get a good idea of who you are, of what you're all about, here's a good exercise to engage in..... Plan your own funeral.

Seriously, down to the last detail. Songs or hymns sung; readings of Scripture, literature, poetry; those who will officiate and those who will eulogize; even what you'd like to be said, preached, remembered...

My Dad told me about the funeral of my Great Aunt last week. She was nearly 93, the last sibling of my late paternal grandmother. He told me it was maybe the nicest funeral service he'd ever been to. She clearly gave the service -- and her life -- a lot of thought. She included everything, planned every detail. She even wrote a poem herself for her memorial service! That takes a great deal of reflection and introspection.

How many of us are willing to do that? To sit, and spend time just reflecting on who we are, what we've done, why we're here? To lay out a plan for what people (one would hope) should think of you, and how they will bid you goodbye?

Most of us are repelled by the idea of death -- especially our own. And in all honesty we don't like to contemplate the far too numerous failures and missed opportunities in our past. Looking back and seeing our faults can be as painful and uninspiring as looking to the future at our certain, impending expiration.

Then again, planning our own funeral -- our own formal recognition of departure from this world to the next -- may actually help us not only to face our appointment with death, but it could encourage us to live better in anticipation of it. When I go, I want to have made plans not only about how others will remember me, but to prepare for what awaits me. And part of that preparation is to live purposefully now, in focus and on target.

Life does not merely end in death. Life is an introduction to eternity. We should concern ourselves not only with planning our funeral, or even with how we'll fare and where we'll be in eternity -- but with how we'll be remembered -- with the legacy we leave after we've gone.

Plan your funeral. It might not only give you an idea of how you'll die, but about how you ought to live until then.

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