Reflection: Live Well


I have the privilege of serving at a lot of funerals, or as we call them in my tradition, homegoings.

They are humbling and sacred. They are painful and joyful. We celebrate the life as we mourn the loss. We laugh, cry, reflect, and rejoice that we had the opportunity to know someone beautiful.

Usually, I am the eulogist.

Memorial services honor the dead, but they are for the living. They give us the opportunity to celebrate, mourn, and consider our ways. So every time I eulogize someone, I have three main points.

  1. We can’t take this walk alone.
  2. We won’t be on this walk forever.
  3. So the path we walk today, and the way we walk it matters.

The overarching point is that we need each other, and need to mindful how we treat each other. And because tomorrow is not promised, whatever conflicts we have, we need to resolve now.

Last month, I eulogized a woman who was easy to celebrate, because she lived well. Her family described he as an encourager and an overcomer. She worked through tremendous adversity in pursuing her dreams and rooted for others to do the same.

An ordained minister who was eminently capable of moving crowds, her heart was for the hurting and abandoned. So she went to prisons. She visited nursing homes. She sought to give people hope, whether it was hundreds of people or just one.

She also put her family first, attending every graduation and celebrating every milestone, and encouraging people to mature and achieve. They said she loved unconditionally, and never spoke ill of anyone.

She strove to stay young by facing her fears. She went on roller coasters and swam in the ocean at the age of 80. Her niece said she was always willing to try. She didn’t want to be afraid.

And it made me think about the way I live my life.

Am I setting an example by the challenges I confront?

Am I taking opportunities to encourage people, to show up for their wins when there’s nothing in it for me?

Am I as willing to serve when the cameras aren’t there as when they are?

Do I resist the temptation to speak about people who annoy me?

Am I sharing adventures with others because it’s what they enjoy? Am I facing my fears for the purpose of living as well as I can?

Living generously keeps us young. Living curiously keeps us sharp. Living bravely keeps us growing. Living well keeps us living, for as long as we are here.

So today I’m grateful for the example of a woman who lived well, who stuffed 180 years into 80.

We never know how much time we have. We can’t guarantee the future. We can, however, choose to live today. We can choose to love, today. We can choose to learn today. We can apologize, and make amends, and repair rifts, and build bridges today.

One of my mentors always used to tell me “what God puts on your plate today, eat it.”

Robin Williams told me “carpe diem.”

There are worse things we could do.

(Photo Credit: August de Richelieu)


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