When I first began working in the small office I now rent, the only inhabitants were a few mopey flies. Several of them had gone the way of all flesh, and their bodies littered the floor and windowsills. I disposed of all but one, which I left in plain sight.
That fly carcass reminds me to live each day well. Death is an excellent reminder of life, and life is a gift. Solomon said, “Anyone who is among the living has hope” (Eccl. 9:4). Life on earth gives us the chance to influence and enjoy the world around us. We can eat and drink happily and relish our relationships (vv. 7,9).
We can also enjoy our work. Solomon advised, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (v. 10). Whatever our vocation or job or role in life, we can still do things that matter, and do them well. We can encourage people, pray, and express love with sincerity each day.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Time and chance happen to them all. . . . No one knows when their hour will come” (vv. 11-12). It’s impossible to know when our lives on earth will end, but gladness and purpose can be found in this day by relying on God’s strength and depending on Jesus’ promise of eternal life (John 6:47).
My friend Gus passed away a few months ago. Gus was a fellow trout fisherman. Weekends usually found him in his little boat on a nearby lake, casting for fish. I got a letter from his daughter Heidi the other day. She told me she’s been talking about heaven with her grandkids since Gus went to his home in heaven. Her 6-year-old grandson, who also loves to fish, explained what heaven is like and what Great-Grandpa Gus is doing: “It’s really beautiful,” he mused, “and Jesus is showing Grandpa Gus where the best fishing holes are.”
Athousand strands of time, events, and people weave into a tapestry we call place. More than just a house, place is where meaning, belonging, and safety come together under the covering of our best efforts at unconditional love. Place beckons us with memories buried deep in our souls. Even when our place isn’t perfect, its hold on us is dramatic, magnetic.
Where intellect and emotion clash, the heart often has the greater wisdom” wrote the authors of A General Theory of Love. In the past, they say, people believed that the mind should rule the heart, but science has now discovered the opposite to be true. “Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love.”
One year when our family was traveling through Ohio on the way to Grandma’s house, we arrived in Columbus just as a tornado warning was issued. Suddenly everything changed as we feared that our children might be in danger.
In 1859, during the turbulent years prior to America’s Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had the opportunity to speak to the Agricultural Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As he spoke, he shared with them the story of an ancient monarch’s search for a sentence that was “true and appropriate in all times and situations.” His wise men, faced with this heady challenge, gave him the sentence, “And this, too, shall pass away.”
The Bavarian city of Nördlingen is unique. It sits in the middle of the Ries Crater, a large circular depression caused by the impact of a huge meteorite a long time ago. The immense pressure of the impact resulted in unusual crystallized rock and millions of microscopic diamonds. In the 13th century, these speckled stones were used to build St. George’s Church. Visitors can see the beautiful crystal deposits in its foundation and walls. Some might say it has a heavenly foundation.
The United States Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, Kentucky, is a fortified building that stores 5,000 tons of gold bullion and other precious items entrusted to the federal government. Fort Knox is protected by a 22-ton door and layers of physical security: alarms, video cameras, minefields, barbed razor wire, electric fences, armed guards, and unmarked Apache helicopters. Based on the level of security, Fort Knox is considered one of the safest places on earth.
On a recent trip to England, my wife and I visited Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon. The house is more than 400 years old, and it was the childhood and family home of William Shakespeare’s wife.