Sunday, January 31, 2016

Not a Space in the Lot

Last week my wife and I went to a funeral home to attend a wake.

When we arrived, shortly after the calling hours were to start, we found that there was not a single parking space available. Anywhere. Not only were all of the spaces filled, but cars were parked along the outskirts of the lot, making it one-way traffic only (which was a pain when a car approached from the other way). Not only was the parking lot for the funeral home full, but people had filled the lot for the building next door. Not only was the lot for the building next door full, but people were parking across the street and crossing a very busy state route to attend.

A pastor once said that even Jesus had his levels of intimacy. He had the 70, then the 12 (disciples), then the three (Peter, James, and John), and then the one (John - the only one at the cross). Layers, better known as circles, of intimacy are common to each and every one of us. No one can honestly count the hundreds of "friends" on Facebook as being part of ones "inner circle".

So, when I asked my wife if it was okay if we just left, she was okay with it. You see, though we knew the one who departed and the surviving family, we were not that close. We were part of the outer circle.

I want to say what everyone says, this person "died too young." Indeed, she WAS too young. When the life expectancy of a female is 80+ (as of 2010 statistics), 48 is way too young.

I came to the conclusion years ago that old age is 15 years from wherever you are at. When you were 15, 30 was OLD. When you were 25, 30 was not old at all - 40 was old. Yet, somewhere along the line, as we find ourselves with more calendar pages flipped than we have left, that conclusion gets reversed. As a 50-year old, I can honestly say that 65 is no longer old to me. But 35? That's YOUNG!

There wasn't a parking space in the lot available. Nor in the lot next door. And the one across the street was filling up rapidly. For sure, many different circles of intimacy were represented. How many were there from outer circles like us? And why were they there?

Of course, there was the care and comfort of the family. And that is good. But I think there is another, more unspoken reason: during such tragedies we are faced with our OWN mortality. And coming face-to-face with finitude has a way of bringing out compassion - for those we haven't seen, or even consciously thought of, for a long time.

May I suggest something? The next time someone crosses your mind, even if that thought feels so out of the blue, take the time to reach out to that person. Remember, more than oil or natural gas, time is the most limited resource we have. And once it's gone, it's gone.

(In solemn remembrance of Wendy Houlahan. Go with God.)

©Emittravel 2016

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