“We know story collections end when they end, as well — the pages serving as a countdown — but nevertheless the standard story anthology hews closer to what makes being human so hard: it reminds you with each story how quickly everything we are, everything we call our lives can change, can be upended, can disappear. Never to return.” ~ Junot Diaz
Today is beginning to look a lot like the “beginning of the end” to a lot of the young people in our parish community. After all, summer vacation is coming to an end in a couple of weeks. It seems hard to believe that school will be in session mid-August. Where has the summer gone? There will be those last minute trips being taken as well as last minute shopping for clothes and supplies. Summer vacation is soon to be over.
We are all on a countdown of sorts. We generally count down to many things. It is sad to think that our countdowns are usually negative in nature, though. We think about the end of things rather than about the opportunity that is to come. People who lament the end of summer vacation do not often focus upon the possibilities of a new school year: new friends, new extra-curricular activities, new ways to showcase newly acquired skills. Instead, we tend to focus upon what we are about to lose.
I daresay that is the wrong way to live our lives. We need to focus not upon loss but upon gain. While we come to one ending in our lives, there are infinite possibilities for new beginnings. If we become too caught up in what will soon be lost, we cannot look ahead with any kind of hope. Our future, then, becomes a future of more losses rather than a future of incredible gains.
Jesus Christ did not come into this world to ask us to focus upon potential loss. He became one of us to tell us that the end of things — including our very lives — has great possibility. For the people of His time, the only view of death was incredible loss. For us, that final countdown moment is a moment of incredible hope and joy. We never have to fear. We have so much to gain.
In the countdowns of life, it would help us greatly if we could learn to look ahead rather than to lament what we have lost. What is in the past may be unrecoverable. However, what lies ahead is brimming with hope.
FAITH ACTION: Are there things in your life that you dread coming to an end? Try to shift your focus to the possibility that comes after those endings.