It must have made a big impression. I heard the story a very long time ago. A tale about Death.
It involves five brothers, Princes exiled from their kingdom, wandering through the forest and finding themselves thirsty. The youngest goes for water and discovers an inviting lake with a white crane standing at the edge. He sprints for the lake and the Crane speaks right before he dives in for a big gulp.
“STOP!” it cries. “This is my lake. If you touch this water without answering my questions, you will die.”
Desperate, the young man ignores the warning. He bends to drink his fill and falls dead by the water’s edge.
In a few moments the next brother comes in search of the first. He’s really thirsty too and he bends down at the lake’s edge to drink. Just as he is about to quench his thirst, the Crane shouts out to him, “STOP! If you touch this water without answering my questions, you will die.” But even though the young prince sees his brother lying dead nearby, he is so thirsty he can’t help himself. He goes to cup the water in his hands for a full gulp and falls dead at the side of his brother.
One by one, two more brothers meet the same fate even though the Crane squeals out its warning. Only the oldest brother, grieving as he was where his brothers lay dead, agrees to set aside his anguish and his severe thirst to answer the Crane’s questions. One was really telling: “WHAT IS THE MOST SURPRISING THING IN LIFE?”
The Prince replies, “That even when a person sees people dying every day, he never thinks he will die.”
With that, the Crane reveals himself to be none other than the God of Truth in disguise, and he restores his dead brothers to life.
I remember the story from a long time ago. . .I have been an ordained minister since 1980 and a Hospice Chaplain since 1994. I’ve conducted, literally thousands of funerals in that time. I’ve been at the bedsides of thousands of people who were dying; seen hundreds actually take their last breaths. I’ve read thousands of obituaries of folks from all ages. I have had personal friends and intimate family members die and I know that the one who writes these very words at this moment will not live
forever. . . .
And yet if I died today or shortly after I hit the PUBLISH button on this Post I would absolutely be the most shocked person, well, I guess, Out of This World.
Hmmmmm. . .Maybe life really begins when we first realize just HOW SOON IT WILL END?
What’s the point? What’s the Moral here? THAT WE SHALL ALL DIE BY AND BY? Uhhhh. . . .
Maybe. . .maybe it’s that, indeed, we are all dying even at this moment. That, in fact, this very day of January 8, 2014 will be the very last January 8, 2014 we’ll ever awaken. And if we can’t be kind and compassionate, not so much because one might really be fighting a most difficult battle, maybe we can because each of us has a limited amount of days. . .days we actually can do something about making each one of them count–TODAY!
For ourselves. . .For OTHERS.