"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Thursday, September 11, 2014

And He Died

The world lost a giant of a man this week. Truett Cathy. You may have heard some pre-recordings that have been airing on different radio stations. One such interview was with NPR. When Mr. Cathy was asked about his future involvement with Chick-fil-a, he jestingly said, "Well, I plan on living forever. But just in case, I'm handing the reins over to my sons." And then he ended the interview with, "Eat more chicken!"Truett Cathy knew that day would come. And it did in the wee hours of Monday morning with his loving family beside him.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in the memorial service for Chief George Potter here in my town. When the bagpipes began playing for the family's procession, I knew immediately I had made a mistake by not wearing water-proof mascara. 

The ceremony ended with the Honor Guard folding the flag that had been draped over the casket -- followed by a very slow salute. The doors to the sanctuary had been thrown open and we were able to both hear and see (via the video screen) the 21-gun salute, after which a lone bugler blew taps. There was the flag presentation to Chief Potter's wife, Connie, by the mayor and a long silence while he offered private words of comfort and appreciation, I'm sure. And then over the church speakers came the Last Call. The most powerful and solemn moment in a memorial service I have ever experienced. Three times we heard the voice from a live 911 dispatch operator calling out George Potter's radio number and name, requesting his response ... and each time she waited for him to answer. On the truly last call, the operator announced that George Potter was no longer in service.

It was a stark reminder of ... well, the finality of death as we know it here on earth -- especially to those who are left to mourn and live without.

The truth is death is tacked on to every life story. It goes all the way back to Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 5. "Adam lived 930 years; and he died." His son Seth "lived 912 years; and he died." His son "Enosh was 905 years; and he died." "Kenan was 910 years; and he died." "All the days of Mahalalel were 895 years; and he died." "Jared ... 962 years; and he died." Ah, but then there's Enosh. We are told he WALKED with God; but "then he was no more." Methusaleh was "969 years, and he died." Lamech, "777." Guess what? "And he died." And so it has gone throughout the ages to anyone who has taken a first breath.

So what do we do with that? What do we do with our little blip on the radar?

Truett Cathy knew what to do.  He knew he could change any life by the way he treated people. And he did just that. He treated each person he met with respect and kindness. To him, everyone was part of the extended family.

Chief Potter knew what to do. He knew he could make people's lives better by being a public servant who wore a smile and who gave young men opportunities they would not have had otherwise.

There is a tombstone in Christ's Episcopal Church cemetery that dates back to 1850. 

It reads:
Endowed with a fine intellect
a cheerful and amiable disposition
and most liberal
and benevolent feelings,
his long life was devoted
to the duty of rendering himself
most acceptable
to his Creator
by doing most good to His creatures.

Maybe that's the key: "rendering ourselves most acceptable to our Creator by doing most good to His creatures." Hmm. Sounds to me like "and he died" is a daily thing -- not something just tacked on to the end of one's life.

Just an ordinary moment...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Recycle Day

Today is both trash day and recycle day. In other words, it's when everyone in my town puts their bin out on the road for the trucks to pick up. It's also a day for finding out a whole lot about my neighbors ... and them me. For example, just this morning in less than a 40 minutes span, I learned:

who of my neighbors drink diet Coke versus the real thing; 
who consumes bottled versus tap;
what kind of juice they prefer -- apple or grape:
what type of laundry detergent they use; 
who buys their pizza from the store and who has it delivered; 
how big their babies are due to diaper sizes;
who drinks whole, 2%, skim or soy milk;
who the campers are as well as those who grill;
who has spent a great deal of time this week cleaning their house;
what ice creams are the favorites;
who is more health conscious;
who is not;
what kind of magazines are read;
who eats take-out ... often;
what kind of oatmeal, beer and snacks they enjoy;
even who has been to the Atlanta Apparel Mart recently.

Yes, one can even tell if the contributor is OCD by the way the bin is "organized." 

Recycling is different from the trash. When we recycle, we are changing waste material into something new and useful. Trash, on the other hand, is just that; and it's to be discarded. That's why not everything goes into the recycle bin. Some things are not meant to last. 

The same can be said of our lives. Some things are meant to be done away with completely. Like sinful habits. Other things ... just need to be transformed. Like broken lives. 

I wonder if Jesus were physically present here today if He might liken the Kingdom of heaven to a recycle center. After all, doesn't He receive this refuse of a life and make it into "something new and useful"?

Yes, I think He does. And Recycle Day is a good reminder to be thankful.

Just an ordinary moment...