The Last Time

 I was reading some Buechner today, and he spoke of the Last Supper and how we too have last moments with loved ones, but we do not often recognize they are last moments. I wonder if we thought of this more often, perhaps it would help us to be at peace with things and to see what is truly important instead of the trivial things we often focus on.

  One day I will sit down for my last meal, but I probably won’t realize it. Often I go home after a workday, and I fret, and even feel a bit sorry for myself because now I must prepare something for us all to eat. I’m easy to please, a peanut butter sandwich works great for me, but my family prefer cooked meals. This can be irritating to me, tiring, and a drain on my dwindling energy. But when I think about that last meal, it changes everything.

What if tonight’s dinner is the last dinner I ever prepare for my husband….or my son? What if sometime between the eating of it, and tomorrow’s meal, God decided to call one of them home?

  When you start to ponder this, you begin to think of many “lasts”. The last hug, the last kiss, the last words……..we just don’t know what tomorrow holds. This past Sunday, in Cairo, Coptic Christians rose from their sleep, they got dressed, they fretted with dressing squirmy children, and they made breakfast. Perhaps they felt rushed, perhaps they were tired and stressed, perhaps they even felt drained by the constant need of their families. Eventually they completed these unrecognized “lasts” and headed out to church…..for the last time.

While sitting in their pews, perhaps singing, or praying or listening to the day’s reading, a bomb went off and 28 souls went home to Jesus. Did the ones left behind agonize over that morning’s lasts? Did the husband wish he had been kinder, did the mother wish that she had not so scolded the child for his exuberance? Perhaps they had breakfast together while watching the television, and there was little or no talking. Perhaps she read a book as they drove to church. How different it probably would have been had they all known that that morning contained all those lasts.

 This morning, a Facebook friend requested prayer for a man who's son died last night in an auto accident. There's a man out there somewhere, heartbroken, shattered, faced with burying a son.....a man who experienced a last and did not know it. I pray their last moment was a good one. That there was grace, love and compassion.

 I too have experienced lasts that I did not know were lasts. How I wish I could live them over again, more mindfully. My last phone conversation with my dad, my last phone conversation with Mel, even the last time I made lunch for my sons to take to school, and the last time I helped them with homework. The last piece of artwork that they brought home, excited to show many lasts.

 Buechner went on to speak of how limited our time really is, and how sad it is that we do not see that every supper with our loved ones is "precious beyond all telling because the day will come beyond which there will be no other supper with them ever again". He states that "every one of our suppers points to the preciousness of life and also to the certainty of death, which makes life even more precious still and is precious in itself because under its shadow we tend to search harder and harder for light".

 Reflecting upon these things brings a strong desire to live more mindfully, to embrace the moments, to live as if each one is a last. To live those moments with my eyes wide open to the people and things around me, to the opportunities God daily places in front of me. To live those moments so that any unsuspecting lasts are the best lasts they can be. To recognize that each moment is holy, and that each task in life is important and worthwhile to God, be it doing the laundry or cooking a daily meal.God is present in every moment. I desire to be more aware of His presence in those moments.

 Can you imagine the difference we can all make daily, were we to live each moment, each greeting, each goodbye, each daily mundane task taken on for our children or our spouses as if it were the last time we would see that person? The last task we ever do for them? Our love for one another would grow, our relationships would strengthen, our compassion would increase and I believe we would have a lot more peace in our lives.

 Moments........that's all we have for certain.....this moment right here and now....nothing else is promised. Let's live them well, let's live them with love and compassion. Let's error on the side of grace and mercy. Let's endeavor to let others know that they matter. Let's stop and smell the roses, gaze upon the sunrise, acknowledge and feel the breeze as it brushes through your hair. Hold the hand of the one you love. Be thankful, take time to listen, reflect on what you are about to just never know....this might be the last time.

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

Quotes are from Secrets in the Dark by Frederick Buechner