I have always enjoyed turning the page at the beginning of a new month, and putting up new calendars at the first of the year. This year, not so much. After my mother’s requiem, my older brother declared, “Well, now you’re the matriarch of the family.” Yikes! Besides feeling like a heavy mantel, it emphasized the reality — I was no longer a daughter. I’m a senior member of the oldest generation in our family. Those thoughts focused the limited time I have left, wiping away my childish view that life would keep going, would get better if I just waited long enough. Then recently I had to deal with Social Security’s life expectancy tables, which hit between the eyes. Even in the best of circumstances, my days on earth are very limited. All that makes “redeem the times” echo in my thoughts, like a jingle you can’t get out of your head.
That’s just darn depressing.
At first, it was as if a shadow had passed over me.
Then I heard a snippet of a sermon on the radio. Tony Evans said, “We are either walking from life into death. Or we’re walking from death into life.”
Reality burned the fog off as I remembered I am follower of Jesus, so this world isn’t my home.
Given the shape it’s in right now, what a relief!
Like my mother and brother before me, when I leave this world I will really begin to live for the first time. This life is just a preamble, a preparation, barely a glimpse, at its very best, of all to come.
But another cloud hovered, an anxiety-filled urgency about all the things undone or unfinished: the books I’ve written and am editing and preparing for publication, the one not completed, and all the others waiting a turn in the wings of my mind, all sorts of projects I’d like to accomplish, and I want to enjoy way more time with my family. I love watching my children grow, seeing their personalities mature and flourish. I want to see my grandchildren, all nine of them, grow up, to dance at their weddings, and even hold a few great-grand-babies. Most important, I’d like to see them all secure in their eternal future. Walking from death into life.
And I’d love more dinners, lunches, reunions, games or hugs with other family members spread all over the world.
And more chats with friends, sharing in Bible studies, more songs to sing, not to mention beaches to walk and waves to ride . . .
I better stop here. You have the idea.
This goes way beyond seizing the day, and making the most of every moment. Like the lavender essential oil I diffuse into the air around me, I want to infuse every waking moment with eternal meaning.
Since my desk faces the opening into the kitchen, my first question after typing that was: eternal meaning when I burn the roast, or clean doggie footprints from the freshly mopped floor? Eternity in peeling squash or running the blender? Moving wet clothes from washer to dryer?
Yes. I think it calls for a combination of two mindsets.
Intentionalality — being completely present with whatever I am doing (which is rare for me, especially when doing mundane tasks)
Gratitude — giving thanks as I take this breath. For being able to move my fingers. Stand on legs that can support me and allow me to walk. Eyes to see the reddened almond leaves flutter in today’s cold sunlight, knowing they will be gone after almost-freezing temperatures tonight. (Yes, that’s severe winter weather here on the Florida Gulf coast.)
Some may have stopped reading by now, or you shake your head, wondering how I arrived this far in life without figuring that out. Some of you actually live that way. You inspire me.
Others, those who have grown up shape-shifting or mind-shifting to avoid dysfunction, pain, fear or chaos, understand what a challenge present-living can be.
I’ve hit on gratitude and more purposeful living before, but this is another layer deeper. This lap around Mt Sinai is closer to the top, higher, and the view is clearer, further.
I don’t feel like I’ve expressed what I’m experiencing well, but I am hoping to live it well.
Tell me, what comes into focus for you when you number your days?