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Some years back, I spoke with a fourteen year old boy who had just had a religious conversion experience. He said to me, "I just can't wait to die so that I can meet Jesus." It shocked me. I thought what a waste of a life. That boy hopefully has many many years to live before he dies. Would that mean that there would be nothing of consequence in the intervening years? What of the boys future relationships? Would they be unimportant? If life has no importance, what of all the good things that that boy might do in future? Would they have no impact? I knew that for that boy, the heavenly goal was all important. But surely this life is important as well.
Each one is is just a small part of the global population. In the world there are 7.3 billion people (give or take). In Australia I am one of 24 million people and in Sydney I am one of 5 million people. As we are reminded in Monty Python's "Galaxy Song," our sun is one of 100 billion stars in our galaxy which is just one of millions and billions of galaxies in the universe. In the midst of those astronomically large numbers it is easy to feel small, insignificant, unimportant.
Walking through a graveyard, I always look at the headstones. I read the names. I might see what years they lived. I might read a bit about them (often times their spouses or siblings are buried near them). However, usually I don't know anything about them. What were they like? How were they remembered by their friends? Does this mean they did not contribute anything to the welfare of the world? Does this mean that their lives had no meaning?
I reject the idea that lives are meaningless because I am a person of faith. I truly believe that life has meaning, that lives lived are worth celebrating. Even though, impossible at it might seem in this world of such a long history, with so many people on this speck of dirt in a vast universe, each life means something. We all express our loves, our hates, our fears, our prejudices. These are adapted, rejected, modified by future generations. So our actions live beyond us. I also think our emotions have a life of their own. A smile that I make gets shared with others. A scowl on my face, depresses the mood of the room.
So if the actions I do now have a life of their own, I realise my life does have meaning. If I can brighten my little corner of the room with some positive energy, then I have a responsibility to do so. Future generations depend on it. Now go, brighten someone's day. Blessings.