Fear & close-mindedness are arguably the real tragedy of death, says Franciscan Renaissance Man.
There are those who just know how they’ll react if and when they have to confront their own mortality. They will freely admit that they’ll be petrified, and others are confident that they won’t be scared at all.
“Perhaps they’re right, or perhaps they’re projecting how they think they’re supposed to feel; in my case, neither fear nor bravery were the dominant notes, but rather one of spiritual and intellectual curiosity and edification,” says Ron Walter, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, successful businessman and advocate of ecumenical Franciscan spirituality.
“I recently had to face my own mortality once again as I dealt with effects of multiple myeloma and ensuing chemotherapy treatment. The encounter led me to a spiritual trek through philosophy, theology and science. In our evolutionary world, I suggest a view of death for we humans as yet another transition into a new form of being.”
How does someone become so circumspect when facing death? Walter, author of “Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason,” (RonaldWalter.com), offers guidance.
• Allow your spiritual intuitions to unfold. Most people have some kind of belief system on spiritual matters, which may remain untested for years and even decades. Whether you’re a devout Catholic, Orthodox Jew, secular Buddhist or one of the growing numbers of “spiritual but not religious,” facing death forces a renewed and often harsh look at one’s true beliefs. As fallible as the mind can be, it is often attuned to signals emergent from deeper truth when faced with significant circumstances. Do not ignore those signals.
• Appearances are often misleading. Are reason and faith at odds? How do we really know what will happen to us in death? We might find a clue in death as many of the faithful have in life. Many see the universe entailing a nearly infinite sequence of random events, leading to phenomena such as life on Earth. Most others, however, see a rhyme and reason beyond apparent chaos. Likewise, the apparent silence of death may be just that – apparent. For the spirit experiencing death, a new and unfathomable life may be emerging.
• Obsessed with one religion, denomination or knowledge base? Death’s proposition may have you looking elsewhere. “I find Franciscan theology and spirituality as well positioned to integrate other fields of knowledge and spirituality,” Walter says. “While others prefer specific spiritual traditions, I hope they are not blind to the possibilities posed by other traditions. I believe every religion possesses only a glimpse of God, and disciplines such as science and philosophy capture some of God’s content and significance.”
“When we hear ‘death,’ we’re conditioned to tremble within,” Walter says. “But when we see it for its deeper truth – involving the transformation of body, mind and spirit, recognizing the interchangeability of matter and energy – I think most of us can come away from the inevitable with greater equanimity.”
About the author
Ron Walter (RonaldWalter.com) is an author, commentator and guest speaker with expertise in human spirituality, business management and military leadership. A retired corporate executive with more than 20 years active military service, Colonel Walter currently serves on Boards of Directors for the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Vesuvius Press Inc. in Phoenix. He is a Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM). “Theory of Everything: Franciscan Faith and Reason,” recounts Walter’s spiritual awakening following chemotherapy in the winter of 2012/2013. It explores the natures of God, humanity and the cosmos from the perspectives of noted philosophers, theologians and scientists. A major conclusion of the book is that finite beings emerge within Trinitarian relations of divine Love.
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