Planting shade trees...
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
~ Isaiah 26:3
The buds of flowers that will never bloom serve as a reminder to me of things that I have planted in my life that I will never see grow and mature. When I encounter moments or thoughts like these, I am drawn to the words of the Quaker theologian, D. Elton Trueblood who wrote, "A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit."
Years ago when I was very ill, my prayer life began to change. I found myself praying that I would live long enough to see my daughter fall in love for the first time, and to see my son grow into a man. The prayers that I lifted didn't necessarily ask for healing, but with healing, then I would be able to be present for both of these things. In God's mercy, I have seen both.
There are simply some things that we will never see happen in our lifetime. I currently have a patient that prays each day for the return of Christ so that she will not have to encounter death, however, she also has faith to know that when she embraces her last and final breath, she will find herself in the presence of the One who she has been praying to see.
So often I encounter people who have created, "Bucket Lists," for their life. While I believe that we should all dream our dreams, lists like these sometimes leave the creator of the list feeling as if they have failed to do something when the symptoms of the life-limiting disease overtake the plan and the person is unable to complete the task.
Trueblood's words are the reminder to us that we can still place something of ourselves in places that will make a difference in the future. I'm so thankful that I have lived long enough to see many things that I have prayed for come to fruition, even if it has been delivered in a way that I did not see coming. In many ways, satisfaction in our lives begins with being open to the reality that we are called to love one another, pray for our enemies, and to forgive and seek forgiveness with others. It's about taking the time to sit and to listen to our neighbor, to look up from our phones and see the sacred person created from the same dust and breath of God sitting before us, and to not talk about what we would do to make things better for those around us, but to act upon our words.
I know that there will simply be things that I will not complete in my life. I may or may not have a plan or even have thought of all the things that I would want or need to do. I can however, live in each moment, knowing that with faith, and as an instrument of the living Christ, what I do encounter in my life and for others, will continue to exist, long after my chapter of life has been lived.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
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Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.