Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Living & Dying, Jamestown, NC
Today’s cover stories about the passing of Elizabeth Edwards due to breast cancer stirred up thoughts and emotions relating to the common fate of my own wife two years ago. I’m sure that was repeated a thousand times over as this disease has personally affected so many lives and moved to the forefront of our culture. I’ve come to believe that many folks can be more influenced by the language of our lives than the language of our words. We all face a common destiny, and it’s not always obvious that sometimes we can influence others more by how we die than how we live. Elizabeth Edwards had the national spotlight for all the public trials she endured, but many related most to how she handled her dying, with her hope and resilience to live out each day to the fullest. Perhaps that’s because we have observed and shared the experience of so many others like my wife who do the same out of the public light and simply in God’s eternal light.
Day Lilies personify living in the present moment, as they only have today to literally unfold and live out their short lives. But they live it to the fullest and glorify their creator no matter what the day brings! Their time is NOW! Their lives play out this day. If there ever was a living presence on this planet that lived a mantra to the extreme, it is the mantra of the Day Lily, "Carpe Diem, Seize the Day!"
This theme is best exemplified by a familiar stanza from Robert Herrick's To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time: “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old time is still a-flying; And this same flower that smiles today, Tomorrow will be dying.” And Solomon, humanity's wisest and richest man, encouraged us in Ecclesiastes 9:7 to, "Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do”
This is not to say that we should exploit today, not learn from the past and not plan for the future. Rather, we should just stop and truly observe the beauty of the Day Lily and appreciate every second we have in its presence. We need to watch as it bravely opens to reflect unconditional love and let it teach us eternal truths. Let it enlighten us to comprehend the gift of our unique creation and the preciousness of the finite time we have to experience it. We need to sense the frailty of life as it dissolves into the oneness of the universe and validates the certainty of our common destiny. Solomon councils us not to get too caught up in the culture of today’s fast forward Merry Go Round with its uncertain future and to slowly rewind our life so that we can appreciate the blessing of God’s gifts in the light of the present moment.
I've come to believe that we can have a positive effect on others by how well we live life, and an even more profound effect by how we leave life.