I recently read a lovely poem by Samuel Hall Young called “Into the Sunset.” Here is the poem:
Let me die, working.
Still tackling plans unfinished, tasks undone!
Clean to its end, swift may my race be run.
No laggard steps, no faltering, no shirking;
Let me die, working!
Let me die, thinking.
Let me fare forth still with an open mind,
Fresh secrets to unfold, new truths to find,
My soul undimmed, alert, no question blinking;
Let me die, thinking!
Let me die, laughing.
No sighing o’er past sins; they are forgiven.
Spilled on this earth are all the joys of heaven;
Let me die, laughing!
As a pastor I spent a lot of time thinking about dying. I was privileged to sit by many bedsides as people died. Although the people present were sad about the one person leaving earth, the bedsides were rarely places of sadness. Families laughed, shared memories, and recommitted to one another. The bedside of one who is going home in faith can be a joyful place.
Samuel Hall Young was a Presbyterian missionary in Alaska. He adventured with John Muir and almost fell to his death while scaling a mountain. He dislocated both shoulders and used his teeth to pull himself off the rock face. Ironically, he died when he was struck by an interurban car in Clarksburg, West Virginia. His daughter found “Into the Sunset” among his papers and published it as an unfinished poem.
Let me die working, thinking, living . . . If you finished that poem, what would be your next line? I think I would finish it with a stanza about loving.
Let me die, loving.
Full of the deepest love only Jesus can teach,
My heart open to every person that crosses my path. Let me die, loving.
I like the idea of dying while we are still intent on living every day. No matter how many days we have left, we can choose to live each one to the fullest. Thus, when we die, we will still be working, thinking, laughing, loving, and living!