One nanosecond has the potential to shift the entire direction and momentum of life. A snap decision...word spoken in anger...wrong turn...momentary distraction...mistaken identity...explosion of passion...rash decision...forgotten occasion...or even playful fun can produce disastrous, life altering outcomes. In many instances that one billionth of a second can be the end of something valued and cherished---a job, relationship, marriage, or even a life. Sadly, it can be the defining moment by which that career, friend, family, or life is remembered. Often, the life well-lived is punctuated by that one horrible blip in time. And, that's a sad commentary about these times. One #MeToo look or expression can ruin what otherwise would have been considered a notable, recognized contribution to history, the family tree, the corporate grid, even the church. You know, in the blink of an eye.
That's one of the reasons people put epitaphs on grave markers, so that a life can be remembered beyond the typical memory points, birth and death dates. That's not to say that the dates are inconsequential. They do announce life in the context of a particular historical epoch and the longevity of that life at the least. Still, there's more about that person's influence than living through a particular block of years or their longevity. A life well-lived is just as often a short and meaningful one.
So, then there's the dash, the grammatical marking between the dates on a grave stone or marker. So, yes, I'm going back a few years in the mention of it, and its probably old news for both of my readers. You know, a dated, antiquated truth. But, it's a profound thought for me today, the seventh anniversary of our son's murder, July 18, 2011. That's because I'm tempted to allow the date of his death, the brevity of his life, and the circumstances of his murder to become his signature impression on us. And, that is such a shame, to permit the 33 years of his life to be overshadowed by the nanoseconds of his death. Of a truth, there is a dash, the years between birth and death. They are the precious memories that should lead our remembrance of him. So, do me a favor! Read The Dash by Linda Ellis printed below. Then, let me finish with a flourish of learning.
I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning...to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars..the house...the cash. What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard; are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.
To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile...
remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read, with your life's actions to rehash,
would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?
1996-2018 Copyright Inspire Kindness, LLC
The other day I referenced Psalm 13 in a blog post about patience, endurance, perseverance, and steadfastness. King David was obviously frustrated by waiting on God to intervene in some personal or spiritual matter. As a result, he asked "How long, Lord?" four times in the first verses. It is a reflective, poignant look at life viewed through a very human lens. What is strange is that I really overlooked the final verse. In his last thought David wrote, "I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me" (Psalm 13:6, ESV). Even in his frustration and dark moments, he remembered God's goodness to him throughout his lifetime. Today we remember him as a "man after God's own heart". David has a dash too.
Brian's death is registered deeply in my core memory, right there with some other regrettable experiences. But, for today, this day, I am remembering those many good and wonderful experiences that are so often hiding behind the clouds of those darker ones. It's remembering and celebrating the dash, the life well lived, and being genuinely thankful for every single nanosecond.
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