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'Eternity as a length of time is torture'

Could you handle knowing how and when you were going to die? When faced with the how, and with a pretty good idea of the when, the Rev. Forrest Church chose to see his diagnosis not as a death sentence but as a "life sentence."

He told AARP's Carl Lehmann-Haupt that time, even for those short on time, can be a gift. "Eternity as a length of time is torture," Church said. "I experience more eternity now, during this period—this last chapter—than I have even when I've been preaching to myself about the importance of digging a trench in time and hitting eternity."

Once the days and months started flowing into another, Church said, time as he knew it grew more precious. "Time just disappeared," he said. "One of the things I have to deal with now, given how luxurious it was to sort of be playing in the light of eternity, is to recalibrate to accord with my new dimensions of time."

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