With a couple of birthdays coming up this week, I’ve been thinking about the purpose of life.
Everything around us is born, grows and changes, then dies. Take a look at nature for a moment.
The grass in the park across the street, for example. The caretakers recently whacked it down to the roots, covered it in sand and nutrients, watered it and presto, we are witnessing the growth of fresh green shoots that are greener and stronger than before. The grass is not dead, it is alive. It has been cut down (that’s change), to stimulate new shoots (that’s growth). This grass demonstrates the hard work of perseverance and the notion that to be pruned actually makes us stronger.
The flowering trees all around us. Right now we are witnessing an incredible show of pink flowers on massive trees all around town. These gorgeous pink blooms remind me of those from the cherry blossom tree but on a muchisimo scale. When the wind blows, these trees show their ability to change and grow by gently dropping their flowers like pink snow on the sidewalk below. These trees demonstrate the beauty of creation and the seasons of life.
The firefly (aka lightning bug). The kids found one on the floor in our house this week. It was on last legs. Every few seconds, this little bug would shine its light one last time, much to our delight. “How does that work?” the children asked. A new curiosity about insects, biology and bioluminescence was sparked. How could it be that a little bundle of cells would be designed to make light? How does it have enough energy left to shine, while it is clearly dying? This little bug reminds us of the importance of living – and dying – with the light of Christ in our heart.
Speaking of death, we have had a difficult year having lost someone we loved very much. Kary’s father Trevor left a tremendous legacy that we still honour and remember with much love and respect. Although we miss him tremendously, we have faith by his testimony on his own last legs, that he is now home. His light was bright until the very end.
One thing I’ve observed in the Mexican and Yucatecan culture is their fear of death and what happens after death. Traditional ceremonies and customs include Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos, Catrina skeletons, construction of altars displaying items of dead loved ones, candlelight promenades to cemeteries, special prayers to/for the dead in appeal for entrance into heaven, family reunions and masses on death anniversaries, to name a few. I’m not going to speculate on whether all of this focus on the dead is right or wrong, but I’ll just put it out there for thought (without meaning to sound insensitive): when you’re dead, you’re dead. While you are alive, be alive. Right to your last flash.
I can hear my grandmother singing to me as a little girl, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine”.
Light up the world little firefly.