Auctioneers like to tag physical objects such as rare paintings or unearthed artifacts as priceless. Going top shelf, as the phrase implies, supposedly elevates an object — getting desire to move people to act outside of their natural instincts. Possessing a priceless item, we are told, is the epitome of wealth.
But to me, priceless is more about things I cannot touch — but rather feel in a deeply personal way.
I’m talking about time with others.
The close of the year brings a blanket of reflection. And like many of you, I am reflecting back to important people in my life that will not be here to join us in the ringing in of the New Year. Nothing reminds me more of the true price of priceless than death.
This isn’t about me, but rather those around me who lost someone this year. I’ve friends who’ve lost mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children. Add friends to the list and you quickly realize we are all impacted in an intricate web of emotional connections.
My wife’s best friend lost both her mother and father within a few short months. Another friend’s wife lost her courageous battle with cancer. And yet another friend continues to battle for his health in a hospital room.
In the end, priceless is not about the things we own, but rather time we spend with others.
Priceless? Ask these people if there is not a single object they wouldn’t trade for five more minutes with those they’ve lost. The value of the Mona Lisa quickly evaporates when placed against the opportunity of holding hands with the person who keeps part of your soul protected inside of their heart for safe keeping.
What life is reminding me is with the introduction of each new calendar year, time is not measured in finite units of time loosely based on a Roman calendar. Both time and life are fluid — powerful reminders that we really only have the present. The past is over; the future is like reaching out to a cloud — elusive and invisible to our touch.
We do not own yesterday. Yesterday is done. We are left to live with the results of what we did or did not do. Tomorrow, in contrast, is a wispy concept of something we cannot count on with the slightest degree of certainty. That leaves us with the present as our only alternative.
God puts our lives in play, allowing us the opportunity to interact with others and impact the world around us. With a few words, we can change a life, a day, or simply make another smile in a difficult moment. But the timeline, God keeps close to the vest.
As we go into the New Year, let’s take the lessons of the past year forward. Make sure you tell those who you hold dear how much they mean to you. Make sure you slow down and spend that extra moment listening to another. The true price of priceless is too high.