If I take a dry sponge and put it into water, the sponge will drink from the water and all the chambers of the sponge will soak up the water until they are all full and the sponge is satisfied. This metaphor has its limits but it does give us a sense of what life is all about. We are all sponges and we drink from the water of life from this world until we are full, fulfilled and content, that is, SATISFIED.
I like the idea of “satisfied” because if we are, then there is also the idea of “no more” or “finished” or “full.” As I have worked in Hospice I have seen that recognition that can say, “No more treatment, no more efforts, no more meds, I am done, I am finished, let me go.”
When that satisfaction happens, the responses vary. From a deep assurance and peace that fills the room and a freedom to let go grows in the human heart or sadness and panic comes because the moment of dying has come. We read of Abraham’s end in Genesis 25:8 “Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, and old man and satisfied with life.” And then we have the verse in Psalm 91:16 “with a long life I will satisfy him and let him see my salvation.” Both of these passages deal with long life and the associated satisfaction that goes along with that.
But what about those who are relatively young and die? Are they pulled out of the water before they “are satisfied?” How can the concept of “Satisfied!” work here?
I think the answer is not so much in how long we live but how we live. Or how satisfied are we in our fulfilling of our purpose and our design?
Not all of us live to be 80, 90 or 100 years old, but all of us have a purpose and a design written into the structure of our being.
I happen to believe that the DNA of our life informs us of our purpose and goal. We all are arrows that fly somewhere; we all are arrows that are aimed at something; we all are designed for a purpose. And when we hit that goal, we know it and are satisfied. Only we know when that is and only each one of us feels that inner satisfaction when that happens.
In the Gospel of Luke we find such a life. His name is Simeon. We don’t know how old he was, but we know his purpose. The Spirit had revealed to him that “he would not see death until he would see the Lord’s anointed.” One day, after the first Christmas, he was in the temple and in walk Mary and Joseph with the Baby Jesus in arms. The Spirit of God rose up inside of Simeon. He took the child and said, “Now Lord, you are releasing your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation…” He was satisfied! He said, “I can go now!” and “I can depart in peace!”
Jesus was only 33 years old when he said, “It is finished!” The Apostle Paul perhaps barely 60 years old said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” He was satisfied!
I believe part of good dying is satisfaction with life and with purpose.
I pray that in the past you have felt your loved one died satisfied AND that you will become more conscious of being a sponge that soaks up the water of life and thus becomes satisfied.
By Helmar Heckel, the Chaplain at Good Samaritan/RMC in Waconia.