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.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. . ."