“So, if I could give you the ultimate birthday present what would it be?”
She responded, “this is great sharing time and a good meal with you.”
I pushed, “thanks, sweetheart, but if I could get you the best present ever, what would that be?”
Just a tiny bit exasperated she repeated, “really, honey, this is great.”
Taking a deep breath, completely aware that in her mind we were done with this topic, I said, “I know what your ultimate birthday present would be.” And with that, her two sons hugged her from behind. Of all the things I could get my bride on her birthday, I knew nothing would be more appreciated than time with her boys. What greater gift is there than being able to spend time with our family and friends?
Last week, a good buddy of mine who works in the medical profession texted me to tell me how sad and frustrated he felt about a young adult who died under his care. This precipitated a lengthy conversation between us about life, death and the fragility of our existence. The exchange reinforced the importance of our very long relationship and the importance of placing value on our relationships over the other things that “demand” our attention. Sadly, this was powerfully reinforced this weekend after more than two decades of hoping for a different outcome, the remains of Jacob Wetterling were found. One moment your child is playing outside, the next they are gone. Life is so very fragile.
Our challenge is to hold that sense of life’s fragility close. We have moments both collectively and corporately, almost always prompted by an incredible tragedy, where we do just that. But just as quickly as it came, it is gone. We lose sight of the sacredness of all of God’s children and we get mired in the ‘small things’ of life. Reactive, non-respectful behavior towards others about things that are inconsequential and certainly not life-giving, seems common.
Over and over again Jesus demonstrated in word and deed that nothing is of greater value than being in relationship. Our call to love of God – love of neighbor – is grounded and manifested in our relationship with those around us. Life is so very fragile. Let us dwell deeply not in the minutia or the mundane, or even the mistakes and missteps of life, but rather the place of love and care for those we are blessed to share the journey with.