At University, I attend weekly lectures and fortnightly seminars. Seminars are smaller groups where you discuss short essays you have prepared on some reading set by the lecturer. In the first seminar I attended, I was the oldest in the group by approximately 32 years. Each of us was asked why we wanted to do “Study of Religion.” Most of the students wanted to study something that wasn’t solely about Christianity. I said that I just wanted time to think, time to explore “what it all means.” Most of us spent most of our time too busy engaging with life to step back a bit and see the bigger picture, or to explore what really matters to us. Sometimes, it can feel as though we are on a treadmill that we just can’t get off.
One of the great privileges of conducting a funeral is the opportunity to sum up a person’s life – their beliefs, their qualities and their passions. I listen carefully to as many people as I can, so that I get a rounded picture of who the person was. I get to hear about a great friendship or a family rift, from another about a hard worker, or the office clown. I hear about hobbies taken up and never pursued, or the determination of a passionate sportsperson. All of these aspects begin to tell the story of a life that matters.
When we are stuck in life or struggling to see a bigger picture, writing our own obituary is a way of teasing out what is important, what we want to be remembered for. It starts to show those parts of our lives that we are happy and fulfilled in, and those parts that are lacking something, or that we are deeply unhappy about. Creating or having a life that matters is not about an easy life. Relationships, meeting personal goals, even having patience in waiting, all require effort. It about living a life that is fulfilling to us and leaves a mark, hopefully in a good way. As Mother Teresa said “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
Give yourself the time this week, to see what really matters in your life.