You return people to dust, saying, “Go back, humans.” — Psalm 90:3
I was reading an old sermon of mine on the eternal question of why we suffer. In it, I ran across a poem written by Ken Brewer, a man dying of pancreatic cancer.
I measure my life in family
who speak through tears,
who serve me meals on a wicker tray,
who pray and love and float.
I measure my life in pine siskens
who entertain me in feeders outside my window,
and Gus, the schnauzer,
who curls next to me in bed.
I measure my life in friends
who do not know my sins,
who hug my shrunken body,
who break open my heart with words.
I measure my life in cancer
that has taught me how to measure my life.
Everything is a matter of perspective, isn’t it? If everything is running smoothly for us, we can take family, friends, pine siskens, and schnausers for granted. But when events intervene and upend things, we see things differently. The season of Lent, that starts this week, reminds us of this. Knowing that we are, indeed, destined to return to the soil that spawned us isn’t necessarily a downer. It helps us live more richly, and thankfully, in the in-between time called life.
It doesn’t necessarily take a terminal disease to force us into seeing things differently. Perhaps it should just take a pause each day and notice things that are truly special but often taken for granted. A loving touch. A kind word. A child’s laughter. A bird’s song. A warm blanket.
What are things by which you will measure your life?