When dealing with almost any situation in life, we can ask, How important is this really? How we answer this question will show us what we need to take action on or file in the trash. It will also show us whether a meeting is as important as our child’s football game. Asking how important is this can be a guide to living life more fully and reaching our full potential.
Remember Your Death
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, we remember our departed loved ones, but we also remember our own death. Remembering that we are mortal is a way to remind ourselves that we only get one shot at this, so live the best life you can. For us that would be living a God centered life, loving our neighbors, and caring for the poor. In the writing, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, (Affiliate Link) St John Climacus writes:
The man who lives daily with the thought of death is to be admired, and the man who gives himself to it by the hour is a saint.
The man who has died to all things remembers death, but whoever holds some ties with this world will not cease plotting against himself.
Another group who tells us to remember our death are the Stoics. Memento Mori, which is Latin for Remember Death, comes to us from the Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. But goes back to early Greek Philosophers. They believed that if we took time to remember the end of our life, it would help us to live a better life, and focus on what matter most.
How Important Is This?
Life is short. It may not seem that way, but it really is in the grand scope of eternity. Knowing what we value and putting those things ahead of the cares of this world will help us have fewer regrets when we find ourselves or a loved one at the end of life.
Nat King Cole Said:
When you know you are dying, so-called big things become small things and the so-called small things become really the most important things.
I have seen sisters stop speaking and friendship ruined over presumed wrongs. I saw my father one time over the last five years of his life because I couldn’t stand to be around his wife. How important is it? Our football/baseball/basketball/etc team will lose. Our kids will only be young for a little while. We have to make decisions on what’s really important in the long run, and it’s not always money, it is always time.
Life is whatever we are attuned to. To what we are looking for and listening to. If we are listening to the cares of this world, they will choke us out (Matthew 13:21). If we are attuned to our family and people who care about us we will chose them over the world.
In 1996 Linda Ellis wrote the now famous poem The Dash that has been made into a song, a book, (Affiliate Link) and a movie. It is the story of a man speaking at a funeral about what matter most in life. I can’t put the whole poem here due to copyright, but here’s the key takeaway:
“For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.”
Think about how important what you have in your life is, and how you will spend your dash.
Paul K. says
Steve, very insightful and sobering. Great words of wisdom. Thanks for you reflections.
Your Brother in Christ – Much love – Paul