Actually sitting down and writing your own obituary is one of the exercises recommended at the end of the first chapter of the book God of Surprises. I am currently re-reading it for Lent. The author, Gerard Hughes explains:
“Do not write the obituary which you are afraid you might have, but the kind of obituary which, in your wildest dreams, you would love to have. Do not analyse it, or try to think it out too clearly, but allow your fancy to run free. This can be a very useful exercise for getting more in touch with your inner life, above all with your desires which are at the core of our inner lives and determine our direction”
You might, like I did, find this a daunting exercise. Even if no one else is going to see it, it is not easy to really be honest about what our true hopes are. As we get older it is easy to suppress the dreams we have – bury them under the reality of messy relationships, pressure of work and the demands of the mortgage.
Some may fear that writing down our deepest desires makes us face up to the fact that our lives have not gone how we wanted it to. Others may be self-conscious about exposing, even just to ourselves, what we fear are delusions of grandeur. Facing up to, accepting and reflecting on your deepest desires is a core theme in God of Surprises.
Rather than repressing or denying the longings of your heart, this book encourages us to embrace and understand what drives these desires. By getting them out into the light, we can bring them before the God who loves us and wants us to have life to the full.
Repressing real feelings
Too often, religious devotion fosters a repression or denial of real feelings and thoughts. But try as might to bury our desires under mountains of guilt or self-hatred, we cannot ignore the deep-seated desires which drive us. Like weeds which grow up through pavements, repressed desires end up warping and fracturing us. As we have seen with too many church leaders caught up in scandals, denial often leads to disaster.
It is the truth which sets us free. Reality is liberating.
A journey inward
Whether you are a church-goer or not, I cannot recommend the book God of Surprises highly enough. It is full of deep humanity and rich spiritual insights. Rather than just stimulating intellectual thoughts about God, which is often the most effective barrier against a true encounter, this is a book invites us on a journey inward into our own hearts. Its a journey where anyone, whatever their deepest desires, can discover the God who will surprise us with his love and grace.