(NOTICE AND DISCOVER #5)
Monday, August 9th
If you are tempted to ignore this post, you are not alone! This was one “invitation to notice” that I accepted very grudgingly. 😉
This past Monday, Jim and I finished reading the book we had been using for our morning devotions, so I chose a new one from his shelf – A Year with C. S. Lewis – Daily Readings from His Classic Works. Turning to the readings for August, we found that the first week was filled with thoughts about grief; Lewis had written these after the loss of his beloved wife. Neither of us were eager to read these, so Jim turned instead to our daily email meditations from Richard Rohr. The topic? “The Devastation of Grief.”
“Oh dear goodness, God wants me to pay attention to grief and death,” I thought to myself. The timing is terrible. Next week, Jim is having additional heart tests for a few concerns, and later this month I have my annual check with my oncologist. But is there ever a good time to consider death? I reluctantly accepted the invitation…
The days are growing shorter as we head toward the autumn season. My life is also heading into an autumn season, as I now have more years behind me than I have ahead of me. These passing years – along with Jim’s heart surgery and my previous cancer – have increased my awareness of the brevity of life. Sometimes I think about the things I will miss one day, even the little daily delights of life. And yet, I feel assured that in the eternal realm, I will find more incredible joys than any earthly gift can bring.
My only heartache about death comes when I imagine leaving my loved ones, at least for a time. Were I to lose a loved one, or they were to lose me, the deep grief of our temporary separation is the only pain I fear. Our relationships are the real treasures of this world.
I recently started listening to Mitch Albom’s podcast, “The Tuesday People” on my morning walks. Mitch shares the insights he learned from his college professor, Morrie Schwartz, as Morrie was dying. So I wasn’t surprised that his conversations were about death this past Monday – and I knew that God would provide some revelations for me in the listening.
The first episode was called, “Don’t Procrastinate Your Life Away.” From Morrie’s life, Mitch has learned to let the regrets of the past go, but also to not let new regrets pile up. In his introduction, he describes “those moments that give us pause as to how long we should put off the things that we really want to do…” and invites us to ask “What’s really keeping me from doing what I’ve wanted to do for a while now?”
The second episode was called, “A Tuesday People Retrospective,” and Mitch shared some highlights of Morrie’s best lessons. Morrie had gently advised Mitch to not wait to forgive someone, because there may come a time when it will be too late. Another lesson was in his description of his “perfect day” – he only talked of ordinary times spent with loved ones. His words that most resonated and comforted me were, “Death ends a life but not a relationship.”1
For these very reasons, I was blessed by my cancer. When we must face the possibility of death more fully, we don’t hesitate to do what is important, especially to make our relationships right. During that year of illness and treatments, a few relationships were forgiven and restored, new friendships were fostered, old friends were reconnected, precious words of love were shared, keepsake photos were taken, kindnesses were given and received. This was the best gift of all – to not have any lingering hurts, unspoken words, or deep regrets with my beloved family and friends.
My invitation for today is to never postpone loving and caring for one another.
Is there someone I have hurt who could use my sincere apology? Are there friends I appreciate but have not taken the time to let them know? Who might enjoy receiving a letter, call, or message from me today?
We may still need to be socially distant and careful, but can I find creative ways to connect with dear ones? Should I try to plan our family vacation (the third attempt) for next year?
At the end of this day, what will I have done to help someone else? How will I encourage, uplift, love, inspire, affirm, and speak my heart with the ones who are so important in my life?
How will I go to bed with no regrets tonight?
I hope my invitation also resonates with all of you. Please don’t put off spending time, reaching out, cherishing, and genuinely appreciating the people in your life.
My prayers for you continue.
1Podcast and quotes found at https://www.mitchalbom.com/tuesday-people/
Photo by Karen, Hurricane, WV