Saturday, May 21, 2011
Yesterday I attended a funeral. It wasn’t a normal funeral. Of course, as I age, I realize there are very few normal funerals anymore. A normal funeral is when an elderly person passes away and his life is celebrated. People are a little sad, but they are able to focus on the good memories more than on their sadness. These days, I just don’t attend very many like that. Maybe it’s because as I experience more of the changing seasons of life, I have started to identify with the people who are left behind after a funeral. I just seem to feel more of their pain. Maybe it’s because, of the funerals I have attended in the past two years, none have been normal. As a matter of fact the one I attended yesterday was a former student, a young man. I listened as his father spoke about his family’s love for his son, and about the devastation his loss is leaving behind. This father was clinging to his faith in God in the absence of anything else to cling to. Completely broken, he eloquently spoke of “Our Boy Ben” as his talk was titled. He demonstrated a deep, deep strength as he, without trying to make sense of his son’s death, spoke of the emptiness they all felt in his absence. We wept. I think we all wept at some point. And then we went home. We went back to our jobs. We went back to our children. We went back to our houses. Yesterday evening, we went back to our kids’ ball games. We went back to our school functions. We just walked away and went back. Our world just inconsiderately kept spinning. Last night as I drove home after work, tired and ready for sleep, I thought about my week. I thought about the things my mind often drifts to, like complaints about various things. My mind complains about the weather. My mind complains about the traffic. My mind complains about the slowness of the McDonald’s line. My mind complains about the length of time a traffic light takes to turn green, and my mind complains about a million other insignificant, meaningless things that go on around me every single day. I thought of these things with the funeral of a young man in the backdrop. I thought of these things while the sound of his father’s voice rang in my ears telling us how much he didn’t want to let his son go. I thought of these things knowing I was going home to my children who are strong, healthy, happy, smart, beautiful, and most importantly, with me. That’s when I decided. I decided that, at the minimum, I would no longer allow my mind to complain. I will no longer focus so much on things that are meaningless and insignificant. That’s what I decided. So I rolled my windows down, turned my radio up and just I drove home on a beautiful spring night with the radio up and my hair blowing in my face.
This morning I thought about that beautiful drive and I wondered how many opportunities I had lost like that because my attitude was negative? How many drives home, late at night could have been just as beautiful, but I missed them because I focused on being tired, or working too much, or the stoplight, or whatever, instead of focusing on the moment I had right in front of me to enjoy? Then I thought of all the other moments I let slip by. Instead of being frustrated at the lady in the post office line with 17 eBay packages to send and 13 money orders to buy, maybe I could have actually looked for an opportunity to brighten a day for someone else in that same line. Instead of asking why (over and over) I always get the slowest line at Walmart, and why they always seem to need a manager right after I commit to the spot by placing my first item on the conveyer belt, and then actually taking the time to post my displeasure with my Walmart line choice on Facebook, how many times could I have used the opportunity to pray for a friend or send a text of encouragement, or to glorify God for the money to buy what I need at that store. There are probably a million other moments I have missed: thousands of opportunities I’ll never get back. But I have decided. I have decided that if my world is to keep spinning, that it will spin with a little more consideration. If my world is to keep spinning, it will spin with a little more love for the strangers around me. If my world is to keep spinning, it will spin with a little less selfishness and a little more gratitude. And if my world is to keep spinning, it will spin with a little more thought given to those moments that were so meaningless to me…before I decided.