The Difference You Can Make: E-pistle 09.15.11.

The Difference You Can Make: E-pistle 09.15.11.

“…We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep.”

These days I find myself reflective… philosophical. It may sound melancholic, but it doesn’t feel that way. My sons laugh and accuse: “being too existential is a professional danger for ministers.” Maybe…

Whenever I view our world from some height above– from a hilltop, a skycraper, an airplane, even a roller coaster — thereby seeing it looking shrunk, I take stock of life with a transformative perspective. Our challenges, disappointments, even accomplishments, though they may seem huge to us…

Actually, air travel has the same effect in a second way too: seeing the clouds “sunny side up” reminds me of a ‘heavenly forever.’ There’s the ‘here and now;’ then there is ‘everything thereafter.’ All our lives — EVERYTHING we know — is not only the short side of eternity. In an eternal light, it all takes on a more manageable scale.

Last week my grandmother’s funeral. In the two weeks before, the deaths of three, albeit older, friends. After all that, the family dog we got for Christmas the year my sons were 8 and 11 had to be put down. This Sunday Old First will host the memorial service for one of our own members, Ruth.

Time moves on. So do we. For each of us, there’s a clock ticking. I feel it now– with only one generation in front of me (and some of them already gone).

Awareness of the shortness of a span of life isn’t particularly worrisome or depressing for me. I don’t experience death as an enemy to avoid. Death is tragic because it means you no longer see the ones you love and they no longer see you.

But it is also part of life. Unavoidably. Springtime and harvest. Planting and reaping. Beginning and ending. Death follows as surely as any of us is born… one of life’s few certainties.

Actually, though I’m not interested in rushing it, I trust death as a firm boundary. None of this life’s troubles or sorrows pass over that divide. All of my unfinished business… well, at last it will be finished. And on the other side, all the less than perfect ways we treat ourselves and care for one another are no more. Then we’re completely in God’s hands, taken care of perfectly.

I guess for me my faith in a hereafter short circuits the questions I could have about it. I figure that is God’s business, and who better to trust…

That same confidence in an afterlife redirects my focus to this life. Rather than turning my religion otherworldly or “pie in the sky,” my faith leaves me recognizing that the only real questions… the space in which I have some say, decisions… is what I do in this life.

“…We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep.”

That’s empowering. A call to accountability for my years and days and minutes. What am I doing with this life? What is it I want to accomplish with the time I am given, whether it is a little or a lot?

See you in church,

Michael

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