In this life there are many things to prepare for, but the most important is for our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. I will take you with me, should you want to come along, on my personal journey to the door which will lead to eternity, through which every soul must pass. Where the angel of death waits to ask the all important question, "Are you prepared for the Kingdom?"

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Location: Anacortes, Washington, United States

Two years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was one of the fortunate ones who survived surgery along with chemo/radiation treatments. Recently, it was discovered that the cancer had returned and although I am again on chemotherapy, in all probability I have perhaps one more year to live. During these last months I would like to share what I have learned about the most important thing we'll ever do in this life and that is, prepare for the kingdom of God.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Life of Mercy

Well I'm finally back home after nearly two months. It was well worth the trip. Nothing like peace and solitude to get life in perspective.

Today I went up to Washington Park which is a beautiful place on the west end of Fidalgo Island, where I live. I sat at the top of the summit and watched the tourists stop their cars and admire the fantastic view. This is truly a spectacular place and one group even applauded when they parked their car and gazed at the San Juan Islands.

So I had this thought. These people come here for vacations and I go to a monastery! An interesting concept. Yet I too enjoy this spectacular scenery, but it can only go so far. All of these visitors will soon retreat back to their homes and remember what a wonderful time they had on vacation. I, on the other hand, will soon retreat to my spiritual home which hopefully will be far beyond anything I could ever experience here.

What I've discovered is that knowing God gives us the advantage of experiencing a little bit of heaven here on earth. He gives us all the beauty of nature as well as the treasure of His presence. In the solitude of Mt. Tabor, I found comfort and joy. I met wonderful people and felt the love and warmth of those who continually pray for me. I truly believe that God is keeping me alive through their heartfelt prayers.

He has also blessed me with additional iconography work for which I am very grateful. As long as I am able, I will do whatever He wants. After all, there is really no other reason to be here except to do His Will. I am on his bonus time, not my own. And actually, we can all be on His bonus time if we choose. It's really a good idea if we want to have a peaceful death.

For those who are still on the fence and not sure about whether to let God take your life and make it what it needs to be, the following prayer by St. Ephraim the Syrian might provide inspiration to humbly come before the Lord and ask for his infinite mercy.

Before the wheel of time stops in my life, have mercy on me;
Before the wind of death blows and diseases, the heralds of death,
appear in my body, have mercy on me;
Before the majestic sun in the heights becomes darkened for me,
have mercy on me; and may Your light shine for me from on high,
and disperse the dreadful darkness of my mind;
Before the earth returns to earth and decays, and before the
destruction of all the features of its beauty, have mercy;
Before my sins deceive me at the Judgment, and shame me before
the Judge, have mercy, O Lord full of gentleness;
Before the hosts come forth, preceding the Son of the King,
to assemble our miserable race before the throne of the Judge,
have mercy;
Before the voice of the trumpet sounds before Your Coming, spare
Your servants and have mercy, O our Lord Jesus;
Before You lock Your door before me, O Son of God, and before I
become food for the unquenchable fires of Gehenna,
have mercy on me.

Repent before death, and, because you do not know the hour of death, repent today, even now, and cease to repeat your sin. Prologue of Ochrid

May the Lord have mercy on us all as we bow before Him with repentant, contrite hearts.


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