The passages of life come so abruptly and unexpectedly in this place of senior people where we live.
When Molly and I returned from our six-day visit in Florida, we noticed large boxes outside the door of one of our neighbors, just across the hall. He delighted in telling funny little jokes, almost on the run, when we'd see him in the hall or around the building. He was in his early 90's, but always seemed to be vigorous as he pushed his wife's wheel chair before him.
But apparently his heart had begun to race, he felt ill, checked in at the nursing home section across the street, and within a couple of hours he was gone. "Here today, gone tomorrow." Or, as so many say reflectively here, "Well, you never know."
The fact is, we don't know. Our time comes, as the Bible says, "like a thief in the night." Unexpected. Unbidden. Unwanted. The "passing" of our lives is sobering.
Apparently, our neighbor was cracking jokes with his doctor within the very hour of his death. Of course, it was no joke. Life is serious business. Being blessed with many years is serious business. Always the question is: What do we do with our lives to honor them as the priceless gift God has given us?
One answer is to live each day as if it were our last. Being thoughtful. Doing good. Living with grace. Being kind. Remembering that every person we will see or meet is a child of God, made in His image. Being careful and caring in what we say, and what we think.
Life passes by so quickly. And we don't realize that until much of it has already passed. We may decide we must not waste a minute, or that we need to be about fulfilling our "bucket list."
Yet maybe it is more about how we look at life, how we appreciate small things, how we attend to little moments. A seminary teacher of mine, Paul Tillich, said, "Every Christian should spend two weeks each year looking at the sea."
He meant, just looking, contemplating. Seeing the surge of the surf. Thinking about its immensity. Realizing the people of so many lands who live by it. And how many people are sailing the seas of the world.
Today I lunched with a dear friend. She has many things she cares about. Issues on her mind. Things she wants to talk about, that she can't speak of with others. She cares deeply about life, about each child's right to be born and to have a life. She thinks about our country and its vision and purpose. We meet as Christians and Americans. We rehearse eternal values. We pray for each other, and the world. And, we leave each other's company refreshed, restored, renewed.
Seeing a friend each day surely brings blessings to that day. And, as we age we recognize that the way we "do a day" will be different than before. That perhaps we can take more time, see more friends, pray and feed on the Scriptures more consistently, and maybe rest more fruitfully in the loving presence of Jesus.
Something to think about, for all of us who care.
Well, it's all over now: The media hype, the exaggerated expectations of how many would come, from across America, and the world, all the streets closed and the safety precautions, the high hopes for sales of practically everything, the spying out celebrities, the astronomical game ticket prices, the soaring room rents. And then the special events. And the oft-repeated media hope that the world would come to Minnesota and be so taken with our beautiful state and beautiful people, that the visitors would promise to return, and that somehow we would be on the map in some larger, grander way - even more profitable way.
The game experience, by television, was dizzying, with commercials too loud, too fast, with messages inscrutable or bizarre. (What were they selling?) But clearly the contest itself was being played by teams who were deft, determined, playing their hearts out, and, for all their muscles and agility, seemed in the end so young, so human.
There was the winning quarterback - a "back-up" one at that, holding his tiny child with boyish pride. And the Eagles coach saying few words but with thanks to everyone, especially and most particularly Jesus Christ whom he loved and served.
I, as one from New England, was partial to the Patriots, but though disappointed at their loss, was pleased with the game well-played, every one giving his best with skill and daring - even with miracle chances that might have succeeded but didn't. It's harder to play well when you're losing. Things happen inside your head, your soul. Yet, the Patriots played well, and the Eagles, playing well, were unstoppable. You'd have to say, "It was a good game."
I sensed on Monday, in the Flagship locker room, a relief that it was over. A little bit tired of the hype some said. Maybe glad to be out of the spotlight as a people, a city, a state. Glad to go back to normal cold, and winter, and the real hope for spring - and other real things.
Glad I sensed with some, to go back to lives of real issues, real hopes and dreams, real and daily challenges. Maybe back to real faith - our own - the God one loves and lives for. The work of being for Jesus, and going with Jesus, day by day - by day by day. Back to church and the people we know and love, for whom we pray, and who pray for us.
Such a mercy is church, and the dear people, and the glorious road of faith. Love you all.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES