This week marked the 23rd birthday of the son of good friends of ours. Their beautiful boy passed away suddenly three years ago in an abrupt and inexplicable ending. This has been on my mind over the last days, as my heart continues to be drawn out in love and longing for him and for his precious mum and dad.
Also this week, we have been holding the news of not one but two other friends who are battling cancer and facing chemotherapy. Again, our minds naturally search for explanations, we want to make sense of the news. But there’s no way of processing this, there’s nothing to blame, no room for logic or reasoning. These things should not happen, and yet they do.
There was a wise professor who taught on my Master’s program. You know, one of those people who brings depth and authenticity into the classroom in a way that slows everything down, that makes learning sacred. He posed a question that has stayed with me through the intervening years. ‘What are you doing with the gift of your days?’ he asked. If each day is a gift, how do I choose to receive this gift, to enjoy this gift, to render this gift worthwhile and valuable?
This week, I am especially in touch with the gift it is to be alive and healthy, and to share this life with the people I love. In the hubbub of regular living we don’t always think about our days like this.
When I reflect on all the days I’ve had with my children, days when I fairly flew from one activity to another, from one mealtime to another, from one thing on my to do list to another, I’m not sure I remembered to stop and consider the gift those days were. When I bring to mind the places I’ve been and the people I’ve spent time with, I think of the times I felt weary or put-upon, just arriving from one reality and already thinking about what was coming next. Sure, there have been times when I have felt privileged and fortunate, glad to be alive. But it’s hard to live consistently from this place of seeing life as sheer gift.