Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
This is the time
by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register
(From the July 31, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)
I suspect that at some level, we take everyone for granted.
The people with whom we don’t actually make any conscious contact. You know: the police officers, the utility workers, the computer technicians who make sure our credit card statements don’t end up elsewhere – or someone else’s ends up in ours.
Until that moment they aren’t there. You need firefighters, but it’s a bad night and it’s going to be a couple of minutes before another crew can scramble. You think you need a police officer, but it’s Saturday night and payday and maybe you’re inconvenienced, but you’re being inconvenienced so that someone else doesn’t get killed. Or you get someone else’s credit card statement. (Which actually happened to me, once. No, I didn’t read it. But my goodness, I was tempted.)
But then there are the people you really do have contact with. Friends. Family. Co-workers. And you don’t ever know when people are going to be leaving you for the last time.
It did happen to a friend of mine, in high school, who had a fight with her father on the way out the door to school and later that day she got the call that his car had hit a patch of ice and slid in front of a train. Or the junior high boy who jumped into a pile of sawdust and instead of sinking in up to his knees went all the way in over his head and by the time they dug him out he had suffocated.
Tragic, tragic losses, each and every day. We all have the stories. We try not to think of them.
Death simply is not easy. Even if you think you’re prepared for it, it’s still a slap. Because we as a culture view death as a defeat – it’s not for nothing that we refer to “losing” someone who has died. And while we should live our lives in preparation for death – doing good, avoiding evil, loving God, loving our fellow human beings – in our heart of hearts we don’t quite believe it. When death enters the room, somehow we’ve fouled up. We should have lived healthier, exercised more, stopped smoking sooner (or better yet, not started at all), worn a seat belt, had regular checkups, taken our medication, stopped worrying – especially we should have stopped worrying about dying –
And so on. You never can tell.
This really is the time. This really is the time to notice. Co-workers, and children. Fellow parishioners. Volunteers. A clerk at the grocery store who smiled like she meant it. The bus driver who said “thanks” as you got off. (Or saying “thanks” to the bus driver who delivered you – again – safely, and on time, where you needed to go, when you needed to be there.)
This really is the time. To say thank you. To congratulate.
To smile. At the people you make contact with. At the people you live with, work with, pray with.
At some level. With everyone.