The last time

Here we are at the end of another Church year! It is a perfect time to reflect on our spiritual lives and memories. This is not the kind of thing we typically would stop for in the middle of the day. More likely, in the still of the night when we are trying to fall asleep our thoughts may move in this direction.

Something during the day might bring a brief remembrance of our past – a person, a place or a “thing.” Lying in bed, we have the time to recall and savor that memory more completely.

I remember my family and extended family members, individually and in groups, in our routine interactions and special occasions. For example, dinner time as a child with my Dad, Mom and brother gathered around the kitchen table or celebrations when we would all get together like Thanksgiving. Their laugh, what we talked about, the sunlight, the smells – sometimes decades before but remembered just like it was yesterday. Broadening to other friends and acquaintances (classmates, fraternity brothers, teachers, co-workers, church, etc.) with who I was close, the memories seem endless.

Think about the people in your life. Your favorite teacher, most mischievous uncle, childhood best friend, your family on vacation, the person at work who became a lifelong friend, a special neighbor. This quickly grows to a lot of people!

It’s not just people that we remember but places and things too. Your childhood bedroom, the place you or your parents rented every year for vacation, the favorite restaurant you used to go to, your college campus, your first cubicle. Maybe you remember your first camera or record player, a prom dress, or that first car.

A curious thing about all of these memories is their indistinct point in time. For example, if you think about your best childhood friend, the vignette that comes to mind is one or more points in the midst of knowing them (or maybe even a “blended” memory). This seems true for most such memories.

What does not stick is the LAST TIME we experienced each person, place or thing except in particularly traumatic circumstances. I remember the last time I saw my Dad and spoke with my Mom, but not really so much for my other relatives and friends. Of places and things, I would be hard pressed to remember the last time I was there or enjoyed that thing.

Yet, there was a last time.

There was a last time I spoke with all the people in my memories. So many have died that whenever that last time was, it was permanent (at least on this side of eternity). In almost all cases, I did not realize then that I would never see or speak with them again. I only know this now in hindsight.

This observation brings to mind some important conclusions:

  • Know that every person we encounter today may be gone tomorrow. Treat them accordingly. Remember this especially for our loved ones. Remember it too for our enemies as we may have no additional opportunities to make ammends.
  • Tell God how grateful we are for all the people in our life and the many, many blessings we have received.
  • One day will be our last. That might be today. Are you ready?

“But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In [those] days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be [also] at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

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