I was pondering over the past 40 years or so about a question we all ask one time or another. What is life?
I hear it every time I am with families who have been confronted with the death of a family member, a neighbour, friend or someone we have known about for years.
What’s it all about? Is there anything more to life than this?
In 1972, I was asked to speak at a youth rally in Sunnyside, Trinity Bay. The theme was based on “The Question.” The question was raised from the writer of the Book of James chapter 4 and verse 14.
Here’s what is written: Pay attention to this! You’re saying, “Today or tomorrow we will go into some city, stay there a year, conduct business, and make money.” You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and carry out our plans.” However, you brag because you’re arrogant. All such bragging is evil. Whoever knows what is right but doesn’t do it is sinning”. (James 4:13-17, NLT)
I now have a much clearer perspective on life than what I had in my early twenties. The idea of turning 50 or 60 seemed to be so far down the road. I couldn’t imagine reaching that age. When my parents were in their sixties, I thought they were really old. Now I get comments from my own children that remind me I am no longer a 20 year old.
A few weeks ago I was at the pet food store in Grand Falls-Windsor. I had my dog with me and this little four-year-old boy came over to see my small dog.
She, the dog, loves children and is quite friendly with them. I came down to his height so he could pet the dog. That meant I had to kneel so the dog and the boy were seeing each other at eye level.
Five minutes later I needed to stand up. My effort to get up was more challenging than I anticipated. When I completed the “work out” and was now standing on two legs, the little guy looked at me and said: “you’re old!”
That was his perspective and my reality, both of which I didn’t want to admit to but so very true.
When your age becomes that obvious, and really, a child doesn’t mince his words, it’s time for some reflection and reassessment; where have I been all these years? What have I done to impact society in a positive way? What am I doing with my life now? And what does the future hold for one who is not getting younger with every breath?
Acting like the proverbial ostrich, burying our heads in the sand, doesn’t change anything for any of us. It only allows us to live in denial and live life in an unrealistic way. It’s not easy to view ourselves as mist or the morning fog, vapor or a puff of smoke that is seen for a moment and then disappears. “For what is your life? - All your plans must depend of course on the continuance of your life; but what a frail and uncertain thing is that! How transitory and evanescent as a basis on which to build any plans for the future! Who can calculate on the permanence of a vapor? Who can build any solid hopes on a mist”? (Barnes notes on the Bible)
To further inspire our thinking, a poem, “What Is Life?” written by Alon Calinao Dy is worth reading -
Life is like a mysterious time in a clock, No turning back.
Life is like a rough road, Too many crossroads.
Life is like a series of books, Full of different stories.
Life is like a soap and a bowl of water, Wash the dirt and clean the germs.
Life is like a cup of coffee, Sweet, bitter, and sour taste.
Life is like a music, Feel the pitch, rhythm and dynamics.
Life is like a boat, Sails against the tide.
Life is like a canvas board, Paint it with vibrant colours.
Life is like a gift, Cherish it or loathe it.
Life is like a constant visit, Needs a daily reflection.
Life is like a tunnel, full of darkness Yet reaching toward the light.
Life is like an empty bowl, Fill it with hard work.
Life is like the death of Jesus, For the forgiveness of sins. Life is like…”