Knowing how to end is one of my biggest challenges in writing. The ‘when’ of finishing usually works itself out; it’s the quality of closing that’s in question. The same may be said of human existence. These days I find myself face to face, face to back, and face to knee with my own physical decline and inevitable mortality. Just last week I was down on my knees laying some tile, complaining to my grandson Josh how I had shortened the lifespan of my knees by wasting my childhood pretending to be a horse. He promptly asked if I would be walking with a cane by the time he was his brother’s age (that will be in only five years), then added, “if you’re still alive.” There’s nothing like the brutal honesty of a child to set one to thinking. Frankly, I understand better now than ever why my mother said so often that she wanted Jesus to come again, so that she wouldn’t have to die. She was secure in her relationship with Christ, she simply preferred to bypass the finality of ending. I wish that she could have done so, and to be honest–so do I.
I can truthfully say it’s not the dying that bothers, it’s the fear of not fully living while I’m still alive. “We must be careful with our lives, for Christ’s sake, because it would seem that they are the only lives we are going to have in this puzzling and perilous world, and so they are very precious and what we do with them matters enormously”(Buechner). There’s not much I can do about the weakening of my knees or the chronic catch in my lower back, but I do have within reach the ability to write my own epitaph. What happened or didn’t happen yesterday pales in significance with what I do right now. My life does count, and this very moment matters. The living of this day consumes, not remorse for the past or fear of failing to have tomorrow; the only way to know I’ll end well is by fully living for Christ right now.
“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4-5, KJV)