“There’s nothing certain in a man’s life except this: That he must lose it.” ~Aeschylus, Agamemnon
Death does not respect anyone. It doesn’t matter the age. We know this. However, when someone who has lived a good life dies before what we think should be their time, we are even more offended.
I was struck by this thought on my recent visit to a monastery in southern Indiana.
I took a walk to explore and came across a graveyard where past monks are buried. Two different stones stood in stark contrast to one another.
The first monk lived a mere 22 years. The second lived an incredible 108 years! Monks give up all of their personal effects to live a life of poverty, in complete devotion to God. Few individuals could be found more faithful, however the goodness of these men did not determine their longevity.
C.S. Lewis said, ““There is no other day. All days are present now. This moment contains all moments.” We are only guaranteed this moment. This breath. No more.
You may remember Billy Joel’s song Only the Good Die Young:
.“They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t
I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
Sinners are much more fun…
You know that only the good die young.”
It was written about a Catholic girl named Virginia that Billy knew. She was in his audience one night at a church when he first started performing. She had never paid any attention to him until that night. He wrote the song as a way to promote premarital sex and reckless abandon. However, he was not the first to truly coin the phrase.
There was an ancient Greek saying, “Who the gods love dies young.” It came from a story about two young boys who took their mother to a festival for the goddess Hera. The mother asked Hera to reward her sons with the greatest gift anyone might receive. The sons laid down and fell asleep to never wake again.
Death will never make sense to us, especially for those who are young. I think the greatest tragedy would be to not live a full life, though. That is a worse kind of death.
In the middle of the graveyard, this statue stood tall:
The phrase at the base means giver of forgiveness. The meaning is so much deeper than it implies. The gift is a lavish one, bordering on the excessive giving of the likes of a spendthrift. It is a reckless generosity. And thankfully, it is available to all who would receive it.
Regardless of whether my years number 42 or 102, may I celebrate through my life the veniae largitor. May we remember we are only given today. May our striving cease, because the length of our life isn’t based on our fruitfulness.
“Each day is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to Him.” ~ T.D. Jakes
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.