One Committed Lifetime

In 1 Corinthians 15, verse 35, we read: "But someone may ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?'" And the writer says, "How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies."

Elizabeth O'Connor, known intimately to many of us, died on Saturday, October 17. I would like for us to savor her life amongst us, to be thankful for what she has meant to us, and to be equally aware of what we have meant to her. All real love is mutual; it's never one-sided.

Henri Nouwen said often that our death is our greatest gift to others, and he wrote convincingly of death in his book Our Greatest Gift. Nouwen almost died when struck by the mirror of a passing automobile in Toronto, and his reflections, titled Beyond the Mirror, have helped to prepare many of us for this time of our transition.

About three weeks before she died, I went to see Elizabeth while she was still alert. She was alone as I walked in and had been for some time, and I said, "Elizabeth, what do you think about during the many hours that you have to be alone with nothing to do but reflect? What goes on within your deeper being?"

She said, "I have been thinking about my heavenly home," and then she turned the conversation to something else. A while later I brought the conversation back to her earlier statement. "Elizabeth," I said, "give me some particulars of this heavenly home business." She said, "You don't really get down to the particulars until you know you are up against it. You will have to wait for the particulars." I am sorry we didn't get back to those particulars.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1999
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