Death’s Angel, also known as the Angel of Death, or the Black Angel, is probably the most important figure that we will meet, face to face, here, in the evening of our lives. He appeared at my bedside the other night, and spoke to me. Bright moon. The Angel stood there, haloed, blazing in a spotlight of glory.
“Everything you have, I own,” he announced, taking my hand. “Your house, your wife, your children, your cat, your dog, your car, your books, your flowers, your garden, they are all mine. And one day I will return and take you from them.”
Cold, the moonlight. Frigid, that waking from my dreams. My hand burned with his fire, yet I shivered.
“When will you call for me?” I asked?
“Soon,” he said. “Very soon. And remember: it will always be much sooner than you think.”
“What can I do?”
“Nothing. I will lend you all these things that you think you own, for a little while longer, but you must never forget that I am lending them to you. You do not possess them. They are only borrowed.”
“And then they will be mine As you will be mine.”
“There must be something I can do to …”
“There is always something. Embrace me now. Hold me. Breathe in my breath. Know me for who and what I am.”
I did as he asked and his warmth filled me. I looked into his eyes and no longer knew fear.
“There is no past,” he said. “No future. All that you own is this precious moment, the magic of the now, this breath you inhale, this air you release. That is what you own. Understand that, and let everything else go. Live in the moment, for the joy of the day. Seize each second, as you live it. Enjoy it, for that alone is yours. Knowledge, foreknowledge, and understanding: these are my greatest gift to you.”
Then, for a moment, I knew and came to terms with the gifts he gave me.
“Sleep now,” he said. “But remember, I will be back.”
I fell asleep and dreamed of the man who met Death in Cairo. Death looked surprised to see him. “What are you doing here?” he asked. Fear filled the man. He ran, packed his bags, left Cairo with its vision of Death, and traveled as swiftly as he could to Baghdad. where he met again there with Death, who welcomed him.
“Why were you so surprised to see me in Cairo?” the man asked.
“Because we had a meeting here in Baghdad, tonight,” Death replied. “And I didn’t know if you’d show up.”
When I awoke, a joyous sun illuminated the world. What I had heard and seen rang out with splendor of church bells calling across green fields and leafy woods on a summer morning. I also knew that what the Angel told me, was not for me alone. It was for everyone I knew. A message, not of sorrow, but of joy, not of despair, but of hope.
This wine I sip, this bread I break, this ray of sunshine, this raindrop glistening, that nervous deer peering shyly from the woods, that chickadee feeding, those crows that bring the world back to life with their daily chorus, each is instant of life held, for the briefest of moments, and then released.
My greatest joy, gained from reading Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements, is to pass his wisdom on to you who read my words, for this message will change your life, as Don Miguel Ruiz’s message has changed mine.
Carpe diem: seize the moment. Deus est in nobis: it is the world soul alive and living within us, unique to each of us. While it is with us, our joy will live forever, and, even though we perish, that joy once shared will never die.