As we come upon the New Year, opportunities will most surely come upon you. If some of these opportunities compelling but you excuse yourself out of taking the attendant risk, consider the following.
We have all experienced the death of a family member that was sad but not unexpected, a death that provokes a feeling of silent relief that the passing has been merciful—he or she had been ill so long. However, others among us start this day like any other. They tell their spouse they’ll be home in time for dinner, they promise to pick up some groceries, then give him or her a peck on the cheek, and go out the door. “Oh, good—no rain this morning!”
Then the unthinkable happens, and the next morning we read about their having suffered an “untimely death.” Now there’s a presumptuous term! Can anyone know ahead of time when they will die? Can anyone experience a “timely death”? Nope, we allow that there is only one Timekeeper. Growing up attending numerous Italian funerals in my family and community, I recall hearing mourners wail, “God took [him or her] too soon!” My question is, too soon for what? For taking the trip they always dreamed of? For finally learning to play the piano? For running a marathon? For living life to the fullest?
The sudden or too-early family death shows us the true nature of Time: it’s a cosmic deck of cards with one card sliding daily from the top of the deck. But here is the catch: not one of us knows how many cards He put in the deck. Even so, being privy to that number wouldn’t matter for a lot of us who don’t perceive the deck as getting smaller. But it is! And we need to pay attention.
Not one of us knows if we’ll be dealt a card tomorrow, or get to keep our card even in today’s coming hours, but one thing we know to a certainty–we’ve been dealt this moment.
Could it ever be “too soon” to live this moment to the fullest? Susan Boyle certainly understands that it is never too soon to take life up on every opportunity given. In her case, we might say she has capably “taken life by the throat”! Susan perhaps understands, too, that opportunity never attempts to measure itself against our expectations, and that’s why a hope realized in a chance at what we’ve wanted often storms into our lives. Have you watched the video of Susan Boyle auditioning for “Britain’s Got Talent”? It has been viewed more than 80 million times and my hits have sure contributed to that number!
The magic of Susan’s performance is not merely the completely unexpected disclosure of a world-class talent. You need only look at the awed faces in the audience to verify the concept of “unexpected.” Those faces make clear that on that evening a matronly, 47-year-old woman from a small Scottish village is hope’s very voice. Her choice of songs is ironic, too: “I Had a Dream” from Les Misèrables, is an expression of life’s miseries. One of the most uplifting verses is, “Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.” Yet, as Susan sang that evening of hope gone asunder, she put the lie to these lamentations. Her actions in the bold spirit of hope “turned it around”!
Going into the New Year remember, life doesn’t kill our dreams–it simply asks that we do the work to breathe hope into those dreams and then take up every opportunity life gives us.