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Just A Minute, 5

May 11, 2018

Socrates means well, but all life is worth living, even the unexamined life. An epitaph on a neglected gravestone reads, “Here Lies An Athiest, all dressed up and no place to go.” A sorry state, indeed. Perhaps he should have taken the time to consider where his life was going. Life is the result of the choices we make at the crossroads of circumstances. All roads lead somewhere, but eventually end in a destination.

What circumstances did we use well, and how did we misuse others? How did our choices influence the circumstances they brought about? Do we take the time to think – to reflect and meditate? Life is so busy, and busyness occupies our time. Our maker sometimes seems far away, and what did He want from us anyway? Are we missing His Expectations?

Consider Pip, Charles Dickens’ unfinished character. Perhaps he married Estella, and had several beautiful children, or not. Dickens apparently could not decide, so his readers insisted on a happy ending. But Scrooge’s life is full of surprises that end well, and Tiny Tim is saved. Charles Dickens seemed to know how unpredictable life is, and how difficult to predict its end.

Life should be filled with joy and love. The rest is tragedy. We persist in gathering what is unattainable, and our lives are then filled with sorrow and remiss. Our lives are linked to others in a complicated knitting. We were born helpless and independent, and we will return to our maker in the same condition.

We are regrettably slow learners. We forget or never learn our history: Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul and others who have given us insight into a Loving and Forgiving God. The magazine GQ cites the Bible number 12 in its article, “25 books you don’t need to read,” I am told by a reliable source since GQ is not on my reading list.

Upon our demise we will be greeted by our Friend who wants only that we live well, taking his advice to love – God, our Neighbors, and Ourselves… to love all that is unknowable. Is Love the basis of all the virtues?

Consider the 10 Commandments, handed to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai,The Book of Virtues, (William J. Bennett, Simon and Schuster, 1993), and 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior hand-copied and kept by George Washington a schoolboy in Fredericksburg, Virginia and later found at Mount Vernon in Amor Towle’s novel Rules of Civility, (Penguin Books, 2011).  Surely these contain enough information to guarantee a well lived life.

We seek life’s meaning. Like Socrates and Solomon, we covet wisdom. It’s important.

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