Don’t Look Now!

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By Bill Koch

You’re born. One day.

You’re a teenager. Another day.

You’re middle aged. Another day.

Another day, you’re retired.

Ten, 20, 30 years can pass between life stages.

The comfortable horizons – so warm, gentle and easy – can change in a wild, ugly moment.

What lay beyond? Why do the years and the days whip by as a mad, mischievous train? Is there some cackling, surreptitious jokester, nefarious and raging, lurking within our lives’ short shadows?

We toil in the yesterdays to build the todays for very uncertain tomorrows, hung with the precarious artifacts grown from profoundly unique and purposeful personalities – set upon a mission to awaken lives slumbering or to heal hearts hurting.

Then one day. In a brute, brazen moment. It’s done. Done. By heart attack. By cancer. By sudden accident. And life changes, again.

Each day provides a certain opportunity. It’s never a life of solitude, of self-absorption, of delightfully experiencing the umbilicus movement of fading days.

Count them. If you live into your 80s, you can expect to go through more than 30,000 days. Early in life, the days may feel long, sometimes agonizingly so. But as you progress, days become hours, and hours minutes.

And we’re done.

But within those days – between the first and the last – what obligations do we possess? What responsibilities ought we hold for the other inhabitants on this spinning blue globe in a corner of this strange, broad-stretch galaxy?

Our obligations extend into each other. We are to reach into the surrounding lives to apply balm, to bring joy and assurance, to build each other up.

That’s the key. Any other option is hollow, a discordant echo from the darker recesses of disconnected spirits.

The grieving widow. The abused child. The confused, angry teen. The disillusioned middle-aged man. Pain, raw and unclenching, piled over with the woolen and ill-gotten relics of filthy, unfaithful mindsets.

We are to join in our short days with our earthen brothers and sisters. We are to help. We are to offer real compassion. We are to present our hearts, raw and vulnerable, to others in the hopes we can establish mercy and grace, rather than deity’s exclusive justice.

That’s living. That’s life, done right. Within the 750,000 hours of our living.