Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is It Enough?

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

On the way to work at the university this morning, I was listening to a song, and the lyric that caught my ear was when the singer sung, “. . . a million sunsets.”  I see a lot of sunrises, and quite a few sunsets, and it got me to thinking about how many I had seen in my lifetime . . . nowhere close to a million, but a lot of both.  That is a lot of sunsets!!  I thought that it was an interesting way to measure the span of one’s life . . . in sunsets.

Most of the time I measure my life like everyone else . . . one day at a time.  I figure every morning that I get out of bed and don’t see my name in the obituary section of the paper, that it must be a good day . . . plus a new personal record—one day longer than the day before.  So far, I am winning.  It feels good to be a record setter. 

I have never measured my life by the accomplishments in my life.  I have never set up a lot of trophies on the mantle or certificates on the walls, but that is a justifiable way of measuring one’s life.  Oh, sure, I have won a few trophies in my life . . . I have received more than my fair share of certificates, too . . . but outside of providing a little more insulation to the walls, most of them don’t mean a whole bunch when it comes to measuring my life.

Nor have I gotten into the game of church-hopping.  That is a big one with clergy . . . having to move up the ecclesiastical ladder to supposedly bigger and better churches before retiring.  I must be wired wrong when it comes to being a minister . . . I started big and have gone steadily south since then.  I served some big churches at the beginning of my ministry, but now I am serving the smallest . . . and, I am happy.  I have never measured my life by the churches I served.

Haven gotten older, I don’t measure my life by what I have accumulated either . . . I really don’t have much.  Yeah, it felt pretty good to owning our first house moving to Montana . . . it is nothing to write home about, but it is ours . . . and, we joined the rest of the rat race by jumping into major debt.  I guess we passed that milestone in life.  The reality is that I do not have a whole bunch accumulated that is worth a whole heck of a lot.  I have a whole bunch of beanie baby bears, stuffed in Mason jars, that are worth less than they were when I splurged to get them years ago.  I have a whole bunch of baseball, basketball, and football cards . . . my retirement fund . . . that aren’t worth much more than the price of the cardboard they are printed on.  Lots of books . . . t-shirts . . . sweatshirts . . . toys . . . and bobbleheads.  Not great accomplishments that one measures life by.  They are cool, though.

Nor do I measure it by the number of friends I have.  Hey, I am an introvert!  Introverts are not known for racking up huge numbers of friends.  I have friends, but nothing like a couple of thousand on Facebook or Twitter.  Shoot it was only a couple of months ago that I finally had a hundred friends on Facebook . . . and, ever since I have been trying to figure out how to politically correctly remove some.  I can count on one hand those individuals that I consider to be close friends, and most of them don’t even realize it.  If I am counting the longevity of my life by the number of friends I have, I should have died a long, long time ago.

Nothing close to a million sunsets . . . I figure the guy singing the song must have been close to a 250,000 years old to have witnessed a million sunsets . . . he was one old fart!  At my age—if I had witnessed every sunset since the day I was born—I would have seen a little over 20,000 sunsets . . . 20,000 sunrises.  I guess he was using generalization or he was one really, really old dude.

Having done more than my fair share of funerals I can tell you that one does not measure life by any of the stuff that I mentioned above . . . oh, I am sure there are those who do, but the majority of people do not measure a lifetime in those manners.  They might bet mentioned, but that is not the measure of a “good life.”  At least they are not when it comes time to remember at a funeral.  No, what people remember at funerals . . . what people end up measuring the length of a person’s life . . . are not milestones and accomplishments, but love.

One of my favorite songs from the musical Rent is the song, Seasons of Love.  In the musical there is a character who is dying of AIDS . . . a tragic end to any life.  The individual is a young person, under the age of thirty, which of course means everyone is lamenting the person’s premature exit from the adventure of life.  In trying how to understand the value and purpose of a person’s life, the cast sings the song, Seasons of Love.  Part of the song is quoted above.  In the song they mention all the ways that people think that a life is measured . . . daylights, sunsets . . . midnights . . . in cups of coffee . . . in inches, miles . . . in laughter . . . and, in strife . . . in minutes and hours.  How does one measure a lifetime?

The conclusion is . . . in love.

Love.  As a follower of Jesus, I believe that everything comes down to love.  That is what Jesus said was the foundation of the two most important commandments . . . love God, love your neighbor.  Love.  What else really matters in the end?  If we have loved, everything else will take care of itself.  I pray that this is the way that my life will be measured . . . by how well I have loved.  If I have done well in love, I will be remembered long after I am gone.  Sunsets and sunrises are beautiful, but they can never replace the radiance of love I have experienced and shared in my life.  Love is how we should measure our lives . . . nothing else compares.


PaulBarbour said...

Simply beautiful

Pat said...

John, that is the most beautiful thing you have said since I met you. Thank you!