January 8, 2010

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

My New Year’s resolution? To connect with God each day

Patti LambAs we rang in the New Year, I connected with a dear old friend of mine.

But it wasn’t under the circumstances I would have chosen. Instead of donning party hats and holding toasting glasses, we wore black and stood inside a church on a cold January morning at her mom’s funeral.

Her mom had been sick for years, but lately her health had taken a turn for the worse.

Because my friend lives out of town and we don’t get to talk as much as we would like, she gave me some background.

“… And then, about three weeks ago, the doctors told us that mom probably had a month or so to live,” my friend said.

I didn’t know what to say. I hate funerals. I never have the right words.

“At least she knew and could prepare,” I said, stumbling over the words as they left my mouth.

“Yes,” she nodded in agreement. “Mom got a chance to say her goodbyes, and not everybody gets to do that.”

Later, I got to thinking about the statement I made at the funeral: “At least she knew and could prepare.” That sounded like death sneaks up on the rest of us and takes us by surprise—as if only a minority knows it is coming and the rest of us just sort of happen upon it one day, completely unaware.

But the reality is that we all come to the same end. We return to our Maker, and nothing will separate us from God. He will see us as we really are. Stripped of the letters behind our names, our fancy houses, luxury cars and designer clothes, with not so much as a breath mint between us, we will stand humbly before him.

I have a friend who, at the young age of 45, has encountered far too many sorrows. This friend of mine tells it like it is, and I love that about her. Once, I baby-sat for her children while she attended a funeral. As she walked out to the car, I somberly expressed my condolences.

I vividly remember her response, made even livelier by her southern drawl. She said, “Honey, we’ve all got an expiration date. Don’t you know that by now? You act like you never thought dying was an option. How else will we get back to God?”

What a nice way to think of it. I remember a similar comment my father-in-law once made at a funeral. He said, “The day we die is our birthday into heaven. It’s just the beginning.”

Sometimes I get so caught up in the routine of daily life that I forget to remember my own mortality. The events of the past few days made me do a gut check and re-examine some things. I need to ditch anti-aging creams and get with the program. Although the message doesn’t resonate much here on Earth, it’s not about what we can “see.”

So how do we move forward, keeping our eye on home while plugging through life’s daily commitments, not to mention the many shiny objects which distract us? I wish I knew.

What I do know is that as I start this New Year, I’ll keep my resolution simple.

That resolution is to connect with God each day, however humbly. I am hopeful that, when the time finally comes to meet him face to face, he will recognize me.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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