Last week, I attended Jean’s funeral. She was the mother of a couple—my friends Brian and Stephi. She was their mother because even though she was Brian’s Mom, Stephi loved her as her own. I’d only known Jean for a few years, but at 91, she was amazing—spiritual, kind, and engaging. She had a long life and blessed many along the way.
At that service, I sat next to my friend, Jill, who reminded me that her best friend died in sixth grade. So much pain and emptiness for those who loved that little girl.
Such a brief life, but I imagine that she blessed her small circle along the way.
My brother, Bob, diagnosed with his first brain tumor at sixteen, died when he was forty. He beat insurmountable odds, and for the last years of his life, he was wheelchair-bound, living in the past. Incredibly, he never complained about the pain or uttered, “why me?”
A life that ended at an age that’s often a “halfway point,” and I know he blessed many along the way.
Many years ago, I had three miscarriages. They were heartbreaking. I didn’t understand the “why.”
Lives that were not birthed into this world but blessed me for the time I carried them.
The beginning of life.
The end of life.
The in-between of life.
We often live like we have all the time in the world.
Ernest Becker was an anthropologist who authored The Denial of Death, writing, “Society is a vehicle for earthly heroism. Man transcends death by finding meaning in his life. It is the burning desire for the creature to count. What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance”. Wow! Before reading Becker’s words, I didn’t think about life in terms of heroism or extinction, but I understand what he said. I believe that our spirits live on, that we don’t cease to exist when our physical bodies die.
Most of us want to matter, leave our mark on the world—we want our lives to have had meaning.
Every day we’re making choices, even when we “decide not to decide.” Most of us have made decisions that we wish we could “take back.” We can’t undo the past, but we can be aware of our future choices by deciding what really matters and then honoring that. If it’s the latest handbag, then truly enjoy the process. If it’s changing the world (even one sentence at a time), do that!
We often devote so much energy planning for “One Big Thing,” obsessing over details, putting “day-to-day” life on hold, forgetting to be present in the current moment so that we can get there faster. We worry and agonize, and then when it’s over: the vacation, the wedding, the remodel, or the event, we’re left a little flat, so we run to the “Next Big Thing” to reclaim that feeling of excitement and anticipation believing it will make life better, but it often doesn’t work that way.
“Maranaste is “death awareness using visualization and contemplation to consider death. Awareness of the ultimate death of our human bodies opens the door to discovering what’s at the core of our life and then valuing each day.
A lot of people are alive outside, but dead inside. They’ve closed their hearts or their minds, and they’ve given up. They’ve done battle too many times to put the armor back on. They’ve not experienced love often enough to risk trying again, so they walk through life simply waiting for death. They’re like birds with broken wings. They can’t soar where their spirits naturally want to take them. Sadly, most of us have, at some point, felt that way. Do you ever feel like your wings have been clipped and that you just can’t fly?
A life spent loving is the opposite of a life spent hating. When hate trumps love, we spiral into:
and destruction—of our world, our country, our cities, our faith communities, our families, and ourselves.
So, pay attention to the details; to the nuances.
Be kind to yourself and the people you’re with.
Arm yourself with love.
Allow love into your life, if you’ve been holding that door closed.
Allow yourself to smile, to laugh, to live each day fully.
Allow yourself to honor each day as a matter of life or death.
Some of us will live long, productive lives like Stephi and Brian’s Mom, Jean. Some of us will live with challenges and pain and have our lives end at a “halfway point” like my courageous brother, Bob. Some of us will lose someone who just started the journey like Jill’s childhood friend.
What if we start a revolution of spreading love? What if we each reach out to five people, today, to let them know they matter to us? It could be as simple as sending an email or text or picking up the phone and saying, “you matter to me.” What if we ask those five folks to reach out to five more people? What if each of them then touches the lives of five more?
What is your truth?
What has meaning to you?
What do you present to the world?
The choices to make every day, every hour, and every minute impact the time we have on this planet. Each day we have a new chance to honor and revere life. While we have the time, let’s choose kindness. Let’s choose love. Let’s choose life.