But what if the world was ending? What would you do on this day, if you thought it was your last?
That’s not an idle question — not one week after the horrific massacre of 20 school children and six adults in Newtown, Conn. All of our hearts are still broken, and the hands of 20 sets of parents are empty at holiday time.
For them, perhaps, this really is something like the end of the world. Our prayers should go out for them, but our thoughts should be closer to home.
Tell people you love them. Really. People you are related to, of course, but even those friends and co-workers, the ones who make your life more rich than it would be without them.
Because that’s what love is — the act of enriching, and being enriched. It’s not just a feeling. We mistakenly equate love to mere affection. But it’s far more than that. Love is action.
We live in a fragmented society with the illusion of connectivity. Facebook isn’t real. And too often, it’s an excuse to not connect in a more meaningful way. We’ve checked statuses, we’ve even written on friends’ walls. But that’s just bits and bytes. That’s an interface, not a connection.
Take the time to truly connect to the people you love. A handshake, a hug, a phone call — these things matter. In this season, perhaps, even more than usual.
If these were truly our last hours, there could be no better way to spend them than by showing compassion — a word cheapened by modernity, but better understood from its Latin roots, “to suffer with.”
Compassion means coming alongside others, and sharing their burdens. It doesn’t mean merely giving money or old clothes or canned goods, though these things have their purposes. True compassion is far more personal than that. And its far more rare. And it’s far more risky — you’re personally invested.
But what better day for a little risk than Dec. 21, 2012? Try it. Ask someone close to you how they’re doing — and wait for a real answer.
And finally, if this was your last day, how would you divide your time?
Would you divide it as you normally do — between work, commuting, picking up and dropping off kids, a little evening news and then some reality show?
Those are the elements of our normal lives. But as any tragedy shows, “normal” life is tenuous. It can change in a moment. And so our moments should be devoted to what we really feel is meaningful — relationships.
The world won’t end today. But we can make it seem like something new.