Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)
Yesterday was full. I had a ton of work to do, I had bills to manage (and even more I needed to figure out how to manage), I had plans to attend to, people to meet up with, and even books I was trying to read.
My list of things to do was long, and the crossing off of some items seemed unequally balanced with the adding of others.
There wasn’t really a frantic pace to the day, just classic multi-tasking. A little of this, a little of that. Spinning several plates at once.
Around noon I decided to take a brisk walk to the bank—just around the corner from our house—to make a deposit to our account. I quickly put on my shoes and coat and headed out the door.
The flashing lights were the first thing I saw.
At the end of the road, at the main intersection in town, I saw the familiar red and blue cycling lights of a police car. As I studied the scene I noted that the car was “parked” at a 45º angle in the center of the intersection, but there did not appear to be any other vehicles out of place; just a line east and west, and a line to the south. Odd… I thought, and continued to assess the situation as my steady stride brought me closer.
Then I saw that a line of cars from the north were all turning to the east. Included in this stream of vehicles were a few more police cars with their lights also flashing. (But no sirens to be heard.)
A funeral… I realized, And apparently for someone in some sort of service due to the number of police cars involved.
Around the corner, heading the same direction as the train of vehicles before me, I spotted an enormous flag flying directly over the center of Main St. It was suspended over the road by four ladder trucks. Four trucks… from four different towns… Who was this guy?
I proceeded to my destination, and completed my transaction using the automated teller machine. Knowing that we live in a small town, I guessed that the tellers inside would know what was going on this day, so I entered the bank to find out.
“The funeral for Mike Murphy,” I was told. “Mike Murphy?” I asked, not sure why they said his name as though I should have known him.
“Murphy’s funeral home?” one teller clarified, “He was only 41 years old…”
We all took a moment then to reflect on the obvious sadness of this day for those that knew him. I’m not sure if any of the three ladies in the bank knew him personally, or his family, but regardless, we all knew it was indeed a sad day.
It struck me as I walked back past the fire trucks, now lowering their ladders and removing the flag that had honored the premature passing of this man only a few years older than I am, that this day was going so differently for them than it was for me. I thought of his family. I thought of my family. I thought of me.
I thought of what I’d been doing this day, and how important it seemed—maybe you can even still say that it is important, on some level—and how irrelevant such things are to his family and close friends today.
It fascinated me how life just moves on.
While they hurt, and grieve, and wonder, and ache, and just process the events of the past week… others—like me—are nearly oblivious, dutifully carrying on with the mundane tasks of daily life.
Life just moves on.
It’s surprising to me the flippancy and depth that those words carry simultaneously. On one hand, it seems as though there is little thought given to the untimely death of a fellow human being; a neighbor. On the other hand, the reality of the relentless procession of time is incredibly obvious as the world continues its endless motion around these people who are mourning.
Oblivious. Ignorant. Uncaring. Unaware.
The questions of the hurting, unheard by the rest who are likely dealing with their own individual hurts, or at best, enjoying a momentary respite from the cruelty of this broken world.
If that were the end—a brief, insignificant, mostly unnoticed moment to recognize a life created in God’s image… that would be pretty sad. Meaningless.
The amazing truth is, we are not unnoticed. (At least, not by the circles of people God has placed us within.) We have great impact upon the people we walk next to—not necessarily measuring by the standards of this world. Our family, our close friends, even mere acquaintances. Even if we only have one passing interaction with someone. We can have an impact.
Mike even touched my life today—though I never knew him. A moment I only noticed by coincidental timing caused me to reflect on the daily doings of my life; our lives.
We are not insignificant. Quite the opposite. Our lives have purpose, meaning.
And we are not without hope. Though each of us has a terminal disease from birth, we can live each day we get to its fullest when we recognize and find our life in Life’s Creator. I don’t know if Mr. Murphy lived that way or not, since I never met him. But you and I can.
And I hope you do.
That… is not insignificant.