|The measure of a life|
ROAMING in thought over the Universe, I saw the little that is Good steadily hastening
And the vast all that is call'd Evil I saw hastening to merge itself and become lost
Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass, 1900
I wonder what happened at 12:42:31 when the hands stopped moving on my grandfather's pocket-watch. I confess I do not even know if the time was near noon or midnight. Whatever the case... it is clear that time ceased to be measured and the hands found their rest.
The life that was lived before the hands stopped was seasoned by eternity. The days lived between the ticking and the tocking were left as evidence of the man who held the timepiece. I want my days to matter. I have seen great beauty in the midst of suffering. I have walked in the dust disturbed by the feet of bloat-bellied children and then come home to walk between aisles of bounty. I have heard the empty compliments of hearts that find pity but miss compassion. I have wrestled with the frustration of seeing well-meaning people impoverish themselves with inaction in the face of dire need.
How hard is it to live forever? I do not believe it to be so hard. And even so, I must agree that few may achieve this promise. I find myself accountable. I find myself with eyes open. I am surrounded by chances to do some good in this world... moments to simply care enough to meet the gaze and feel the embrace of a person in need. We are made immortal by living out the love of God.
We walk this land as sleepers. Like violin players on a titan of a ship on her way under. We tell ourselves soothing whispers like, "God is in control, you don't have to worry." Yes, this is true. God is always in control. And yet... there have been times when atrocities have raged, innocents have been burned, and chaos has covered the face of the earth.
What is at stake here is not the condition of God, but rather the condition of our own eternal souls. Yes, we do have need to be involved. We each have been created to stand in our own place. Many will merge into the meaningless expanse of ignoring the suffering while we pet our own desires. And then... we wonder why we feel so unsatisfied. We shut our eyes at night and we fear the darkness.
We miss the incredible peace, freedom, and joy that is available to us when we open our eyes, see the need, and let the love of God flow through us to others who hurt. The secret to immortality is understanding that the smallest measure of goodness is able to overcome the vastness of evil. It is a simple action of reaching out our hand to do the good that is within our reach.
We are given this time and we have the capacity to do amazing things. You can change the world. You can watch it change in the eyes of the one you lift up. You can feel the power of hope when it pours into a life that has been without a drop. Fill the space between the ticks and tocks with moments of immortality.
There will come the day when the hands of time that embrace our lives suddenly are silenced. When those who hold our broken parts in their hands reflect on our time... will they see that we lived a hastening towards immortality, or a mere hastening of death?
Because strait is the gate,
and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it.