How to measure a life

It’s Sunday…the first day of a new week and while I am thankful for each day, I am especially grateful for this new week.  I say this, fresh from experiencing a tough last week.  

The song, Seasons of Love, from the musical Rent has played itself over and over in my head.  The lyrics ask us how do we measure a year in life…all 525,600 minutes of them?  We measure a life as the song describes by things like “sunsets and midnights, in inches and miles, in laughter and strife.”  The song concludes with the invitation to measure a year in life by the seasons of love. That is certainly how I will measure the past week.

My week began with the “high” of joining with a dear friend, her family and congregation she has been called to be pastor to, for her installation.  It was a great moment of celebration for them all and the signal that her journey through the preparation for ministry was truly now complete.  She will be a compassionate, competent and creative leader for this congregation and I am grateful that I was a part of the celebration.

The week included attending and officiating at the memorial services of two young men whose lives came to tragic endings.  In both cases, these young men came to a place in their lives where death seemed to be the only answer to life’s questions.  Those who are left behind, family and classmates, friends and co-workers, are left with unanswered questions and bewilderment at what they might have done or said to prevent such tragedy.  To measure the lives of these young men and to live our lives in such questioning and bewilderment, is to misuse the minutes of our lives: to live our lives remembering the love of these young men and extending our own season of love to others is a better use of our time.

The past week was a final chance to say good-bye, thank you and farewell to a trusted colleague who has accepted a new position in a church in Barrington, Illinois.  He served in our presbytery for 14 years and if you do the math, he spent more than 7.3 million minutes of sunlight and midnights, inches and miles, laughter and strife faithfully proclaiming God’s love, mercy and grace to countless people.  I know and hope that those whose lives he has touched remember the seasons of love he shared with them.  I pray that the congregation he will now serve will come to know this same season of love.

Part of my year’s allotment of 525,600 minutes were spent in meetings with others this week, in airplanes and airports, in phone conversations and prayer, in writing words of memory and courage, and with family and friends.  Each of these events alone are significant in the minute, yet pale in comparison with the larger season of my life.

May you measure your life by the seasons of love, not just the minutes of a day.

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