The Saturday after I came into the hospital I was supposed to lead a memorial service for a woman who had been a long time member of the church. It was a celebration of life because she had lived well into her nineties. Family and friends gathered and shared a moment together to remember and rejoice over a life well lived. I have led so many celebrations of life in my twenty years of ministry and each of them are unique. That is unique in the setting, the participants, the music and the menu. Yet, every celebration of life that I have ever been blessed to be a part of has had one consistent commonality. All of them had people sharing stories about the person’s life.
Now that might not sound unusual to some, but there is more. The stories weren’t about degrees earned or promotions achieved or mortgages paid off or the number of awards won. The stories were about that stupid song that they always sang or the corny jokes they always told or that time that they ran out of gas on the side of the highway. The stories were about the everyday, the mundane, the normal comings and goings of a life well lived. The stories were about the simple things that might be overlooked by a biographers inquisitive eye. I am serious, not a single solitary memorial or celebration of life or funeral, however you want to label it, that I have experienced, in my role as a pastor, has lacked this reality. It doesn’t matter rich or poor, black or white, old or young, male or female, it is always the same. The cream that rises to the top is the everyday life living, smile giving stories of our common existence.
I was reminded of this reality today as we were looking over the names and the notes from people who have donated to our GoFundMe and have left us well wishes on Facebook. There are names of people that we haven’t physically seen since graduating from high school. So many memories have been rushing back into our minds of people and places and times that have gone by. Michelle and I have been so blessed to read those words and have shed way more than a few tears in response. As we sat here in the hospital reading, crying, laughing and remembering, it dawned on me that what Michelle and I were remembering were the stories about the everyday, the mundane, the normal comings and goings of a life well lived. It then dawned on me that most people never get to experience this blessing while alive. Because of the fact that we are sitting in a hospital awaiting a heart transplant we have been able to remember the stories that otherwise would have had to wait for our memorial services.
How cool is that? Talk about having your cake and eating it to! Would I rather have a healthy heart, not looking down the barrel of a transplant? Would I rather be preparing for Thursday’s Bible Studies and Sunday’s message? Would I rather be picking Fast Passes for a family trip to Disney? You bet your _ _ _! But, that isn’t our reality. So, we have decided to drink this all in, to revel in every moment we have, to celebrate the life that is; not lament over a life that isn’t. In that process all of you have given us encouragement, enlightenment and inspiration through your words and your generosity. We might not have talked with you in a very long time, but the moment your name appeared before our eyes we re-membered you through the stories that you brought to our minds. The stories of the everyday, the mundane, the normal comings and goings of a life well lived. And that has made all the difference in the world.