Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reflections on Life....and Death

The e-mail was heartbreaking. The cancer was spreading and they are now talking about months, not years. My friend and his wife had decided to forgo some treatments while continuing others. Their emphasis had shifted from "quantity" of life to "quality" of life. I respect their decision, it's one that I would make. My prayers and hopes go with them.

I've been thinking during the last two days about the whole "quantity" versus "quality" thing....The sad thing in all of our lives is that we've been playing out that debate at all. We pick and choose between so many things that in the end nothing gets either quality or quantity time. When did we lose the wonder and the joy of life? Now our lives are filled with things that are, quite frankly, not important....The tyranny of the urgent rules our lives with an iron fist, and the urgent is seldom important. The TV, the internet, baseball, soccer, whatever, these things have taken us away from the things that are most important. God, family, and friends are all cast aside for the sake of chasing whatever happens to have captured our attention at the moment. My oldest daughter (who struggles with serious health issues of her own) jokes that those types of things are "shiny" and they cannot be ignored.

But that's exactly what we need to do: ignore them. It's time that we quit worrying about the quantity of the things that fill our lives and begin to focus on the quality of our lives. Things like family, friends and God deserve more than the scraps of our time. We'd be better off without most of that other stuff anyway. But doing that will require discipline and discomfort and we don't like either one of those concepts. As a child, and even through college, I could accurately be described as being carefree, happy go lucky. At heart I'm still that way, but somewhere along the way I crowded my life with so many less important things that I lost that part of myself. I've decided that I don't like my life in its current configuration and have spent the last few years sorting through and cleaning out my life, bringing it down to those things that matter most. I'd like to think that its made me a better husband, father, and friend.

It's sad, really, that so many of us have to face a serious tragedy or situation to begin to consider these things. My wish for my friend is that he would be healed, but my greater wish for him is that God would grant him genuine peace and joy, regardless of how many days he may or may not have left.