Life seems to flow in stages. It seems no matter what stage you are in you can’t really grasp the one ahead. A teen doesn’t appreciate the wisdom of their parent’s guidance but rather sees it as an intrusion to stifle their zest for life. College kids are too busy enjoying their independence from the overseeing eye of mom and dad to think about what a responsible future will look like for them. Young parents are building careers and raising babies, shuttling kids from one activity to another and all the while wishing they had more time alone where no one needs anything from them.
It’s not until the dust begins to settle and the nest has emptied out and the years have quickly passed by that the reflective process launches into active mode.
I find myself thinking back on my mom and all the ways she showed her love and all the ways in which I failed to appreciate it. The thoughtful things she would send in the mail to encourage me on this journey of life that often went unread because I was always going to “get to it later” and didn’t. There were far too many of those moments. My intentions were good but my priorities were often faulty. It seems such a pity that the very people God has put at the core of our lives we tend to marginalize for convenience sake. Of course, there are always exceptions to everything and there are those who cherish every blessing in life but I think the majority of us don’t. I think the majority of us take for granted the gifts around us and expect we will have time to show our love when things slow down a bit. We always think we will have time later. But, that’s the precarious thing about life, later may just be too late.
I sometimes wish that life could be unplugged. That it could slow down long enough for our eyes to connect our hearts to one another and let us see the souls within, long enough for us to recognize that in fact, we have souls. These beings that reside in our depths created for communion and community but most often remain a mystery. Oh we say we know this but we really rarely see each other. There’s just not enough time.
Maybe there is something to be said about the benefits of following the Sabbath. The busyness of life recedes and the relationships come to the foreground. But, we managed to find loopholes in this practice as well to give us an excuse to keep moving. So, I have to ask myself this question; “Why do we not really want to stop?” I saw this news piece on a funeral home in the Midwest that has the first drive-by viewing. You pull up to what looks like a bank window and push a button and the curtain draws back to give a view of the deceased “friend” and a drawer opens and you can sign the guest book and off you go. This says it all. No need to console a hurting widow or mother or hug a broken hearted soul. No muss, no fuss. What is happening to us people? Have we progressed or regressed?
What are we afraid of? Why do we want to live in an Instagram world of smiles and action? Are we trying to convince ourselves that deep down we are happy people? Or are we running from the fact that we are not. And if we are not, could it be because we are so disconnected from one another that it’s the easier thing to do than to get to know each other?
Go see your mother, invite your brother over, see if your son has time for lunch, make eye contact, see who lives behind that mask and love them. Really love them. It may be messy and challenging but what richness can rise up from the depths when soul touches soul and fans the embers of a nearly lost flame. Our heavenly Father did it for the world. Can’t we do it for one another? No matter what stage of life we may find ourselves in, if we would just stop long enough to look into the eyes of another’s life, learn their story, clothe ourselves in their skin for a moment, perhaps those picture perfect smiles would begin to radiate a more natural glow of a soul that feels loved.
“Three things will last forever---faith, hope and love---and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT