by Ken Rolheiser
                Advent before the curtain falls
Few are eager for the end of natural life – the Saints, maybe. Fewer still make light of it.

Oscar Wilde reflected this wit from his deathbed: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”

Some last words are optimistic. Legend has it that Beethoven declared, “I shall hear in heaven!” (Internet source)

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers who died of pancreatic cancer at age 56, leaves us an inspiring legacy about death. In his eulogy his sister Mona Simpson describes his passing: "His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude. He seemed to be climbing.

"Steve's final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times. Before embarking, he'd looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life's partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them. Steve's final words were: 'Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.'"

Earlier, from his sick bed, Steve shared some wisdom about living: "I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death. In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds; I can feel the breath of god of death drawing closer…

“Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth… [There] Should be something that is more important: Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.

“Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me. God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.

“Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down. Treasure Love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends. Treat yourself well. Cherish others."

Another Advent is upon us as we near that celebration of Christ’s incarnation and our redemption. Perhaps the strongest Faith experience in our lives is related to Christmas memories. This is especially true with family.

Note the popularity of Hall Mark Christmas movies, stories of romance, falling in love and Christmas miracles. In an ideal world our lives move from pinnacle to pinnacle, motivated by values more important than money.

Savour the existence of peaceful living in a country free of war. Enjoy the ability to share our wealth with the needy at home and abroad. Have a generous heart this Advent.

And pray. Pray for a good life to share with those we love before that final curtain. And may our lives end with the blessing of “fierce tears” and the final expletive: Oh wow. O wow. Oh wow.

(489 words)