Approach life and death from a different perspective

I went to my first ever Sermon today. (Midnight Mass in 1992 dosen’t count because I only have a hazy recollection)

Anyway I really enjoyed it. Which is a bit of a turn up. No, I’m not having a mid 30s crisis and turning to God.  Although my granny would be rejoicing, she never did quite get over me not being Christened. I attended my first sermon from a commitment to myself to ‘try new stuff’. It wasn’t a religious Sermon, but  a Sunday talk run by a company called ‘The School of Life’. They describe themselves as a new social enterprise offering good ideas for everyday living.  Yes sounds a bit obvious and right on, but stay with me.

Part of their work involves breathing some new life into life, and their Sunday Sermons invite Mavericks to come preach to us common folk on how we can better live our lives.

So this morning me and a few hundred others gathered at a hall near Holborn in central London to hear what Charles Leadbeater, leading authority on creativity and innovation had to preach.

To be fair, not ever having attended a Sermon before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – what do I wear for starters? The atmosphere was friendly and excited and my fears about having to wear Sunday best (whatever that is) were unfounded. What was important was getting the best seat and an order of service because we started with a hymn – Teach Your Children by Crosby Stills Nash Young, and if you didn’t know the words you were in trouble.  There was a singer with a guitar leading the congregation – and we all sang.  I didn’t know the song (too young maybe?) but I bluffed my way through and think I got away with it.

Charles preached on adopting a different perspective;  that how we choose to look at the world determines what we see, how we act and the choices we make. He advised that a strategy for living life to its fullest is to look to the end of life. Due to medical breakthroughs, better standards of living and care, the number of people living to die at over 100 years old will increase a thousand-fold by 2070. We have never been in a world where life and death are so long and protracted. Having and planning a ‘good’ death experience can provide an insight on how we can live a better life.

According to Charles, the key to a good life, and a good death is growing up and growing old with good relationships that inform and develop us. At the heart of all these relationship is conversation. Simple. The relationships we forge, the connectedness we have with individuals and the communities in which we live, and how we share and participate in life are the most powerful drivers for social change.

The second hymn was ‘When I’m 64′ and I couldn’t belt it out loud enough. The Sermon practiced what it preached, serving buns and tea and providing a chance for the congregation to share and connect.

So the lesson is to focus on our last years and track our relationships and actions backwards to ensure we are in charge of our own final wishes.  I’m going to die in a warm climate, with a sea view, glass of dessert wine in one hand, cheeseboard in the other, knowing that my friends and family will remember me for making a difference.  I’d better get busy.

I’m a fully fledged convert to the School of Life. Check them out, try new stuff. Get connected.

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