Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

PART I: SICKNESS, DEATH AND AGING

In the last two articles, my focus was on sickness and health. It seems appropriate and timely to devote a couple of articles on death and aging.

Those of you who have been following my articles, on the Passing of the Giants of the Human Spirit, know the plethora of deaths in the last several months. In all of my 77 years of living, and 50 years in ministry, I cannot ever remember so many people that I knew dying in so short a period of time. It may be the aging process. Because I am old, people I know and with whom I associate are old. And old people are supposed to die. What strikes me, however, is almost all of the people, who have been furneralized, are under 70 years of age.

Again, it speaks to the state of health in our community. I believe that it is God’s intention for us to live a long time, say 120 years, and be in good health. Then, without deteriorating illness or excruciating pain, peacefully, make our transition.

Robert Louis Stevenson captures what I mean in a beautifully written poem that robs death of its terror.

"Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig me a grave and let me lie.
Glad I lived and gladly will I die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the grave that they made for me,
here he lies where he longed to be.
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
and the hunter has come home from the hill."

Recently, a member of my church grandmother died. She was in her nineties. She was not sick. I asked, “What was wrong?” “Nothing,” came the reply. “She just wanted to go home.”

According to the Bible, Moses lived to be 120. (His natural force was not abetted.) Of course, I know, few, if any people reach that exalted state today. In fact, we do not even come close. Most people, I would guess, start deteriorating in their 30s, 40s, due to the absence of health promoting habits.

Let me hasten to say, not that I write as one who have no health challenges. I had/have Arrhythmia, an erratic heartbeat. Because my sinus node does not fire, ignite, or set in motion a proper rhythm, it causes my blood to back up in the ventricle or a compartment of my heart and thickens or clots. Should the clot reach certain parts of my heart, sudden death can occur. Should it reach my brain, paralyzes can set in. I was hospitalized for several days. I went through corrective procedures, was prescribed a blood thinner medicine and put on a strict diet. I was told not to get burse or cut. I could bleed to death.

Because I have my own eating program, love contact sports, i.e. Basketball, boxing, etc., I thought the doctor’s program was too strict or confining. It subtracted from the quality of my life. I decided to quit the medicine, enhance my eating and exercise program, and stay mentally positive and consistent in prayer. (I would not encourage anyone to do as I did.) Well, as of this writing I am still here. However, daily I live with my mortality. Any day can be the last. I do want it remembered, should questions be raised relative to my health program not helping me, quite the contrary, had it not been for my health program, I would have been dead a long time ago.

I have inherited a condition that disposes me toward cardiovascular challenges. My grandfather, who was a pastor, had a stroke in the pulpit, from which he never recovered. My father, also a pastor, died at 56, and 2 brothers died within six months of each other, all from cardiovascular problems. I am convinced, what has saved me, so far, was 25 years ago, I became health conscious, which led to a vegetarian lifestyle. Thank God, at present I enjoy good health, as far as I know. I maintain a demanding schedule. I work 16 to 18 hours per day. I feel energetic and have a zest for living. Tomorrow, who knows?

I know that people dislike references to old or being old. In Euro-American society, aging is viewed as an unwanted experience. In other cultures, the elders are venerated.

It is worth noting a research that was done in the November issue of Prevention Magazine on people who had lived to be ninety and beyond. The question was asked, “What is it they all had in common? There were ten (10) things they all shared:

They are purposefulness – they all had a purpose.

They liked their work. Somebody had said, “If you enjoy what you are doing, you never have to work a day in your life.”

They enjoy life. They truly like living.

They have a sense of humor. They find things to laugh about. There is a Bible verse that says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

They take care of themselves. They are health conscious. It does not mean that they are vegetarian, but they practice moderation – always aware of the relationship of their consumption with their health. They are mentally positive. There is a Bible verse which says, “Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirits which we have from God and we are not our own.”

They are friendly. They like people. They are personable.

They help others. In this life, we are “cloggers” or conduits. We either allow things to pass through us back into the world to enhance life or we try to hold them, and so we become clogged up. There is a kind of sickness in being a “clogger.” On the other hand, God rewards us when we are conduits, when we are giving back what we have received.

They see the lighter side. They have learned to balance seriousness with lightness.

They are people of faith. They all have faith in something or someone bigger than themselves.

They exercise. They are engaged in some form of exercise.

Those are the ten facts that run through the lives of all long livers. It is significant to note that, the program of the long livers are within the reach of us all. It is not mountain climbing, desert crossing, ocean swimming stuff. With a little determination, discipline, we can join the long livers.

To be continued…

Upcoming Events
Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday night forums 7pm to 9pm held at the House of the Lord Church.
We will be hosting a Tribute to Brother Elombe Brath, on Sunday, December 9, 5pm, at the House of the Lord Church.
On Thursday, December 13, 2007, 7pm at the House of the Lord Church, Rev. Daughtry will be making a report to the community on his trip to Sudan at the Timbuktu Learning Center.
Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.
Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ www.holnj.org.
For further Information on all events, contact The House of the Lord Church @ (718) 596-1991.