These last nine months have been a season of loss, including (as well as the usual professional honour of conducting funerals) the deaths of three people who, in different ways, had a particular place in my heart. Each one showed me something of themselves which enriched me, and I miss them. Much more so do those who were closer to them, and whose daily lives carry that aching void. My loss pales into insignificance besides theirs.
Yet my sense of sadness is still – at times – fresh, if not quite raw. But yesterday and today, for a complex of reasons, I was taken back to thinking again about someone whose death has a little more distance in time. This lady also had, and has, a special place in my heart.
What struck me again this morning, as I thought of her, is how often we attach either our significance or that of others to entirely the wrong things. This precious woman never wrote a book (and having done so I deliberately chose it as an example of something we can see as, in itself, far more important than it is), did not reach giddy heights in her chosen profession, was not named in an honours list or reach any particular number of likes on posts as (I suspect) she wisely did not attach any weight to social media.
Yet her life had a great impact on me. Her love for her family, her profound unselfishness even amidst great suffering, her unstinting faith in the God who she believed would take her beyond death to new life, were all profoundly moving and inspirational. They co-existed with an equally deep humanity: times when vulnerability was real, when she was unafraid to need a hand held or a word of comfort and was equally courageous in voicing that and granting those of us there the privilege of offering them.
Each one of us, unique child of God that we are, is called to live out our specific calling, and that may happen to mean writing books, reaching the top of our professions, or contributing something that results in being honoured in some way. Yet what counts, what really matters, is the impact that we have on the lives we have been privileged to draw alongside. If we have shared our humanity – both our brokenness and our strength - if we have loved as best we are able, if we are remembered for who we are rather than what we did, then surely that has been a life well lived?
Thank you, my friend.