All Roads lead to Rome.
Even an atheist cannot stand indifferent to the death of an eighty four year old man who pledged his life to his belief. Along with the millions around the world, I watched a man let go of his life slowly. Like many that watch the developments from their television, I sat back and watched sadly with the feeling of utter powerlessness to do anything about it. And so, when there is nothing more humanly possible to be done… we turn to our faith and pray.
I pray for a man I have not met, but whom I feel has left such a positive impression on the world. At first I prayed for a miracle, but then I asked God that if he was to take this man, than to do so quickly. It was but a question of time before Jean Paul II met his maker. And so, I prayed that his death was painless, that his hurt minimal and that God ended his suffering along with the rest of the worlds´, as quickly as possible.
More spiritual than religious… I somehow still cannot ignore the deep sadness I felt during the last days and last hours of this dying man. I didn’t consider him as Jean Paul II – Pope at that point. To me, was a dying man, a man like any of us that had managed to live his life according to his beliefs. That on its own is a worthy accomplishment, which on its own deserves the empathy and prayers of those who accompanied his last hours. Those who choose not to recognize him for the religious figure that he was, that at least recognize him for the man who managed to live his life in the best way possible: according to what he believed in.
I wondered about this man that was dying. I wondered about his thoughts. No doubt, he reached out to the God that he has lived in function for. But putting aside his religious beliefs… what were the thoughts that crossed his mind? Was he scared? Was he doubtful? I believe that any man or woman would be. The Bible tells us that Jesus was… what makes the Pope any different?
Did he recall his life until that point? Did he remember special moments? Special dates, special people? Was there ever a woman in his life that touched his heart? Or a family member he hoped to see at the other end of that tunnel?
Did he feel any regrets, or any special thankfulness for the good that which he was able to do during his life on earth? Did he wish to live? Did he wish to die? Did he for even a second, wish he’d chosen a different life? Regardless of the spiritual and religious leader that he was, regardless of what he represented to pilgrims and to the rest of the world… he was but a man and my thoughts went out to that dying man.
There is an old saying that: All roads lead to Rome. Of course this is logically and physically incorrect however its symbolic meaning depends on the believer. All days come to an end, all life eventually dies and every body returns to being dust…
Most reporters claim that today this saying is true to the fact that most people are in Rome with the pope, if not physically than in thought and prayer.
When there is nothing left to do… when hope is all that is left… we pray. We hold on to our faith and believe that somehow there is a chance for life, for continuance.
Jean Paul II is physically dead; however I believe that his memory will be immortalized in the memories of many who believe in him. Why?
While some may argue that it is because he was a celebrity or because he was a spiritual leader, I argue that those reasons aren’t good enough for anyone to remember who was the 50th president of any country or the name of their local priest.
The reason his memory becomes immortal is because of the way he lived on earth. Like any of us that die, our memories are cherished by those who knew us… by those whose lives we touch and by those who by one form or other loved us.
I’m humbled by the power of prayer and faith of the people I see on TV around the world. I don’t care much for the voice of critics or hypocrites, instead am more interested in the heartfelt faith of the common man. His death touches my soul as the death of any admirable man that lived his life to the fullest would. I pray that this old man felt the presence of the world with him as the laid his thoughts to rest. I pray that he heard the prayer of each individual praying for his health and I pray that at the other end of the tunnel, the only tears shed are those of joy.
Rest in Peace Karol Wojtyla
2 April 2005 20h37