Last night Pat McLean was killed crossing Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach. Pat was a friend of our son, Malcolm. They were on a recreation soccer team together years ago and both went to St. Petersburg High School. They were seniors. Malcolm saw Pat at school Friday and then he woke up then next morning to a message that Pat had been killed. Of course, this is heart breaking for Pat’s family and loved ones and friends.
Tragedies like this happen in the course of life. It is awful for those involved. And an abrupt death is usually much harder on the family and friends than a lingering death. There is no time for good byes, for resolving unfinished business, for making amends. Again, not so much a problem for those who die, but perhaps very difficult for those left behind.
The Lenten season as we devote ourselves to spiritual growth, we can think about how we are living our lives, conducting our relationships, and taking care of things. The saying reminds us, Live each day as if it were your last. While that may sound morbid to some, it is really a concept filled with love.
If you live each day as your last, you will apologize where needed and contribute to needed reconciliation. Then hurt feelings are not left behind. Loved ones are not left with unresolved issues. What a gift to those you care about. If you live each day as your last, you will be more judicious about what you get upset about thinking: “This is my last day on earth, do I really want to make an issue out of this? Does this really matter that much?” Again, that thoughtfulness could truly mean a lot to those you love. If you think of this day as your last, you will want to take advantage of the opportunity to express love and gratitude to those who are important to you. There are also the practicalities. Are your “affairs” in order? Finances? End of life wishes? Death and burial plans? Wills? Things well organized and easily accessible such as insurance policies, banking statements, and other legal documents? This is another important way we can show love to our families and friends. It will make things so much easier for them especially if they are stunned by grief.
We can also think about what we love and what has meaning for us. Do we spend our days, our time, and our money, in ways that reflect what is important to us and what we care about? If this turned out to be your last day on this earth, would you still chose to spend it watching old episodes of Full House? Would you write that letter to a friend? Would you do a crossword puzzle? Would you go out to lunch with your pastor? Would you plant that tree? Would you clean the bathroom? Would you finish that painting? Maybe. Maybe not. But I think that we want to invest our lives in what truly has meaning for us. That is a legacy worth leaving our loved ones.
Thinking about each day as our last is a way to frame living out love for our families, for friends, and for the world. It’s a way to think about what really matters. It is a way to cherish each day as the gift and treasure that it is. It is a way to encourage the light of Christ to shine through us out into the world while we are here in the world.
Prayer: So often we get caught up in things that don’t really matter. We may postpone doing what we know we should be doing to take care of ourselves, our relationships, and the world. We may focus our attention and our energy on things which don’t really matter. Out of love for those we care about and out of gratitude for the gift of this precious life, we pray for the grace to live each and every day to its fullest. Jesus never let an opportunity pass by to do what is good and right and true. May we let him guide us. Amen.