The other day, I heard someone say the most beautiful thing when I asked about the passing of his friend.
“He laid down for a nap and woke up with Jesus,” he said.
His words took me by surprise. While I was ready to extend sympathy, I suddenly found myself learning a lesson of grace. Here was a man who’d lost a good friend, yet exuded genuine warmth in knowing his friend was in a better place.
I think it might be natural for most of us to fear death or treat it with an uncomfortable reverence, as if it might be contagious like the flu. But in the end — and I do mean the literal end — everyone’s time will come. We don’t know the time, the place or the manner, but we all have an unpublished expiration date.
Earth is home to billions of people, many with vastly different views on everything from how to pray, what foods to eat or even who we might like or dislike based on another’s appearance. But at the end of the day, we are all still riding a little blue planet spinning around the sun that has absolutely no regard for our petty differences.
And I believe we all hold life — or our time with loved ones — as the most valuable of commodities. Yes, as a race (the human race, that is), we are amazingly good at complicating a good thing. We invent invisible lines to create boundaries between nations, create prejudices founded in half-truths or ignorance of others, or whip up emotions and actions all under the call of a flag or banner.
But this takes me back to my friend who’d just lost his friend.
We picture his new life as one of happiness, companionship and comfort. A world where we all share values and concern for the well-being of each other. This is not a country club where he gets to play all the golf he wants or grabs cold lemonade from the counter without paying. His arrival is based on universal truths and values — ones found in cultures across our globe: the kindness of another, the helping of those in need or the healing of the sick.
But this only makes me wonder, if this is what we project as our ideal outcome, why don’t we work harder to make this possible on the little piece of real estate we are currently riding around the universe? Why shouldn’t we look for the great number of things we have in common instead of how we are different? Why not create on Earth what we all seem to envision as our reward at the end of life?
My friend’s words really moved me. Yes, he’d lost someone he dearly loved and respected; yet he was happy for the place where his friend had awakened from his nap. And it gave me an unexpected pause.
While happy his friend is now in a better place, it only makes me want to double down on making my ride on this little blue marble a better place to live.