Last Saturday afternoon, I headed out to Williamsburg Landing with Janet and her sisters for the purpose of starting the process of removing their father’s personal effects from the room he occupied there. I had to run to the airport to pick someone up, but I went up to the room first to survey the situation and take an overview of all that had to be done. Now my father-in-law lived up on the second floor, as did my mother-in-law. Throughout the months that I visited them in Williamsburg during their final illnesses, I noticed a very interesting sign outside the elevator on the second floor of Woodhaven, their living unit.
You see, some of the folks who live there don’t get out very often and in fact, they can get confused about where they are and what is happening. So every day, the sign on the wall announces several things that help keep the residents aware of their place in time and space. So as the elevator doors opened, I read the following: “Today is Saturday, September 14th, 2013. The Season is Summer. The Weather is Sunny and Warm. The Next Holiday is Columbus Day…” The last time I was there, the “Next Holiday” was Labor Day. For some reason, the change in the last line from the previous visit really hit home with me. I think it was the realization that time really does march on. Even death doesn’t stop time for the living.
Sometimes, I wonder about the fact that time marches on. I guess I used to think that things would stop existing after I was no longer around. Now intellectually I know that isn’t true, but I have never been able to connect the dots on this whole idea. It was only 18 days ago that the patriarch of the family sat in the very room I am writing from this evening and told the entire family how proud he was of each of us. Tonight, we will have a short private remembrance of him as we get ready to go home the next several days. How quickly things change – and how final they seem. In my mind’s eye, I still see him sitting in the chair by the fireplace when in reality we have cleared a place for his ashes until the family decides what the next steps are.
There’s no point in a really long post this evening – I have made my point. Life is fragile and things can change in an instant. But for those who are left, time continues its march and life continues. The flowers don’t stop blooming, people still get up for work and the loss of a loved one is hardly noticed by the rest of the world. The verse for this evening is a well known one from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, a book written by Solomon. We are told, in Ecc. 3:1-2, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die…” Certainly, our family is dealing with the reality of that this week.
My encouragement this evening is to make the most of the time that you have been given. In the words of John, my father-in-law, we should “live life to the hilt”. My prayer is that you will make an impact on this world such that when your time to leave has come, people will notice the void and mourn your loss – all as time inevitably marches on. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…