Have you ever wondered who or what would be your last vision on earth?
On a brisk late October Saturday morning, Jack left his wife’s side in their warm bed and headed up the hill above their home to deer hunt. He left a note on the kitchen floor so his wife would stumble upon it when she awoke.
He had an agreement with his friend, Butch – they both tell each other their whereabouts when leaving for the woods. He told Butch he’d be at the 365. Jack wore his orange hat and vest.
Around 8 am, a stranger, but fellow hunter noticed the orange of Jack’s hat and vest through the woods. Hunters etiquette is unspoken but universal – give your fellow hunters space and silence – don’t disrupt another’s shot and keep hunters safe from bullets. About 10 am, the fellow hunter again passed by Jack’s stand. Jack’s orange hat and vest outlined Jack’s sitting position – Jack was slumped over. The fellow hunter called the sheriff.
Meanwhile, at home, Jack’s wife had gotten his note and worried why he hadn’t returned. She called Butch. Knowing Jack’s location in the woods, Butch went to find him. Approaching the stand, Butch was stopped by the sheriff, “stay back! we have a deceased person.” Butch convinced the sheriff, “I think I can identify the deceased for you.”
And he did.
Jack, slumped over his rifle that was resting on his knees, had one hand in his sweatshirt’s pocket.
It had been instant. It was a massive heart attack. Jack died, doing what he loved where he loved.
Returning 3 weeks later for Jack’s memorial, we made our way through the forest to Jack’s Last Stand.
I sat down on the stump where Jack had sat – I wondered if the trek up that hill had been tough – was he out of breath? was he cold? Did he think about his warm bed that he’d deserted that morning? Did he hear deer hooves crushing the pine cones and tree debris that was scattered on the forest’s floor? Was he hungry?
And then all my questions were silenced when I looked out from Jack’s Last Stand.
and then lights out.
No time for questioning.
His heart stopped beating, but not before it led him Home, to a perfectly fitting place where he could enter the Kingdom in his orange hat and vest with silence and space, leaving behind a beautiful stand where we may now feel His Grace.