My husband reads giant stacks of documents for a living. Sometimes he brings home one or two feet of paper to read, and it is the thoroughness with which he reads and digests that information that enables us to eat, have a sound shelter, and clothes on our bodies.
So he doesn't read other stuff all that often, and I can understand why.
But there was a book that was recommended to me from a very reliable source, a father-and-son book, and since we have two sons, I thought it might be a good idea to purchase it for my husband.
When it arrived (do people buy books at the bookstore anymore? Books come in the mail, right?), it was hard for me to keep my hands off of it because, well, it was a book. But I managed to resist. My thinking was that I didn't want to know all the recommendations made in the book, because it might subsequently make my husband feel as if I were waiting for him to do the stuff in the book. You know, eyebrows raised, foot tapping, close-lipped smile. So I allowed it to be his project, and I contentedly noticed he'd tuck it along with his stuff if he foresaw a wait ahead in his day or something.
Now, my husband has a cousin 22 years his junior. This dear boy, smart and handsome and talented and everything you could want in a son, lost his father two years ago. And he had lost his grandfather the year before that. The remaining men in his life, of differing ages and backgrounds, varying faiths and interests, have stood around him, sometimes literally but mostly figuratively, as he navigates this passage from childhood to adulthood without his father and grandfather.
My husband is among this band of men, and it was one night when he was reading the book I had bought him that he said of his cousin, "He's turning 18 in March. I want to have a dinner for him, with his father's friends there..."
And so the plan was set, and it was accomplished two weeks ago. Men gathered, and they hadn't all been in the same room since his father's wake, and the pictures from the evening revealed just what joy they had in being in each other's company, in encouraging this young man. They brought letters they had written to commemorate this significant birthday. Advice they thought his father would have wanted to pass on. Decades-old photos of his father, smiling, always smiling...
One of the men in the group had been suffering from a particularly aggressive form of cancer, and it was through the grace of God that he was able to attend. His wife drove him in from out of state, revealing his true physical limitations, but the photos from the evening show a brilliant countenance, sparkling with life and energy and a ruddy glow. My husband, upon arriving home from the party, expressed such gratitude that this ill friend was able to attend.
And then two days ago, we learned that he had passed away. Sometimes, I am all about intention, and the action behind the intention gets lost along the way. I plan, I think, I plan some more, I intend. I am so blessed that my husband didn't just think it would be nice to get the men together to encourage his cousin...no, he put action behind his intention, and by doing so he was able to capture a fleeting moment in time. Not even two weeks later, a precious soul left the world. Not even two weeks later, those same men will gather at a wake for one of their company. I am so blessed that my husband is a man of action, who enabled a rare meeting to take place. He is a man who recognizes that time is short, the time for action is in front of us.
How often do we, blessed to be in the busy time of children-at-home, three-people-need-me-at-once, could-it-be-any-noisier, rush through the day,waiting for evening to fall so that we can rest our bones a bit? I know that I do this often, and I deeply regret this attitude, for time is short.
I pray for the open heart to cherish each day, each hour, each minute, each instant.
I pray for the readiness and motivation to put action behind my intentions.
I pray for the mindfulness to realize the precious in each moment as it happens, not just when I have a quiet moment to reflect.
Time is so very short.