A couple of years ago I heard a song on the radio that said; “we are all only one phone call away from our knees.” When I heard these words it made me think how fragile our world is and how fragile each of our lives are. It is easy to go through life, day after day, ignoring the fact that at any given moment things could drastically change. Perhaps as a priest I am a bit more aware of this because of the things that I am confronted with as I minister to people. People normally don’t come to their priest to say how good things are going; they typically come to share their struggles, their sorrows and their pain, and I understand and accept that this is a part of the vocation. It’s no different for doctors. People usually don’t set an appointment with their doctor to tell them how healthy they feel.
I also realize that most people don’t contemplate the potential tragedies that could happen to them, nor do most individuals sit around thinking about their own mortality. I am not necessarily advocating this, although the church fathers do see a benefit in calling to mind one’s inevitable departure from this life. What I am advocating is that we all ought to recognize that our life is fragile, and we are one phone call away from having to face unpleasant news. I will take it one step further and say that we should not only recognize this fact, but we should allow this reality to deepen our appreciation for life as a whole, and to propel us to seek deeper and more meaningful relationships with God and others.
I have noticed that people who have had to endure tragedies and “real scares” in their life with threatening illnesses and other very difficult situations generally have greater sensitivity and deeper appreciation for their own life and the lives of others. They seem to be more “real” and are not afraid to discuss otherwise considered “taboo” topics. They have been through a war, endured the fire of a particular situation and they have come out more refined, more attuned in to the reality of life.
We know from Holy Scripture that the world we live in is passing away, and that there will be much suffering and tribulation in this life. If this were the end of the message, we would all be in a very despairing position, but this is not the end of the message. Our Lord has said that He has overcome this world. He reminds us that the sufferings of this world cannot compare to the glory that will be revealed in us. We have a God who is not indifferent to our suffering but one Who came in the flesh and suffered in every imaginable way for our sake. We have a God who knows what we go through each and every day, and thus we are never alone! Moreover, He has gone before us to prepare a place for us in His Kingdom, a place where there is neither pain, nor sorrow nor suffering.
The world we live in is indeed fragile, and we see this every day with the fires, the earthquakes, the hurricanes, the floods, the famines and all manner of disease. Our lives are likewise very fragile, and we see this also through illnesses, hunger, and ultimately death. It would be good for us to never lose sight of this fact, because I believe that if we are mindful that at any given moment in life things could change dramatically, we would value and appreciate the life that God has given us and the people around us more.
As we approach Great Lent, a time devoted to deepening our repentance through self-reflection, let us not forget that our time here on this earth is very short and we would do well to live every moment as fully as possible. When we begin to slow down our thoughts and pay attention to the details in our relationships, we will begin to see how precious life truly is.