Claiming Our Moments for Love

As for mortals, their days are like grass;
   they flourish like a flower of the field; 
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
   and its place knows it no more. 
Psalm 103:15-16 (NRSV)

Monday morning, many of us awoke the heartbreak of Sunday night's tragedy in Las Vegas. Whether considering it as a single, horrifying situation, or as the latest episode in a long, brutal series of events, this tragedy has provoked a flood of grief and turmoil.

Many of us feel overwhelmed, beaten down, or even numbed by the media's images and accounts of the violence. Many of us feel anger and incited to take action--to boldly fight for change and for dialogue about our future. After all: our broken nature notwithstanding, violence of this magnitude has to be preventable. Doesn't it?

Whatever we believe the answer of this question to be, one thing is certain: death and sudden tragedy are never completely preventable. Life has taught us that. 

Earlier this year, one of my coworkers passed away suddenly. We hadn't worked together long or frequently, since he spent most of his time in another work location, but one day he came to my office for a meeting. After the meeting was a catered lunch that he, another colleague and I ate at my desk. Normally, I work or read through lunch, but that day I decided to be sociable. We chatted about work, our families, and other quotidian things. A few weeks later, he died. Although it hadn't been all that substantial, I was glad I'd taken that moment to talk and get to know him better, instead of rushing onto other things. 

For every moment I look back on as well-spent in communication and togetherness, I can count at least a dozen missed opportunities: calls I should have answered, visits I should have made, conversations I should have extended. Sometimes, when I add them all up, they consume me. Those lost moments also spur me into a desperate struggle to do more. I try to be more intentional about my interactions. I try to be more vigilant for chances to give and love in daily life so I don't get too preoccupied to act on them like I have in the past. I know life is short and will not be presenting the chances a second time.

Yet in this striving to do more, I sometimes forget to simply be. I forget that the most meaningful moments are often spontaneous and disorganized, all I have to do to make them count is to be present in them and embrace them. 

As the smoke clears from the unthinkable events in Las Vegas, I pray that we will take action, instigate dialogue for change and healing, and confront, rather than be overwhelmed by the darkness. But I also pray that we would have the grace to simply be--to live in mutual grief and comfort, love, and togetherness. We are the salt of the earth and light of the world, anointed to share grace with our presence, and called to emulate a Savior who gave of Himself in even the simple things, like breaking of bread and discussions after hours and outside walls. Let us claim the fleeting moments we have for love in His name. Amen.