Cherishing relationships, temporary though they might be
It is worth remembering that we all are just pilgrims on a journey through this life and each moment. Each relationship is a gift to be cherished.
This was brought home to me recently as multiple acquaintances completed the sale of their homes, after just days of putting their houses on the market.
They are now completing the necessary details required to leave this area and to establish new homes elsewhere. I already know I will miss them.
Another friend has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. While he is managing the best he can under the excellent care of hospice, I know that soon, far too soon, his earthly life will come to an end. While I will rejoice that he will then begin his time in eternity, I don't really want to admit that our time together has been so brief.
And I hurt for another friend, whose husband died suddenly, without warning, as she was getting ready to start her day.
I am also aware that some of the first words we teach our children are "Hello" and "Bye-Bye." These are words that we will use again and again as we travel our unique paths. Our lives will be a series of greeting people with words of welcome and bidding them farewell with words of thanks.
All this might sound very morbid and depressing, but rather it causes me to take stock of the importance of each and every person I meet - whether I have known him or her a long time, or just a few minutes.
For those who call ourselves Christ-followers, we are aware of the fragility of life, as experienced in relationships that first form and then often dissolve.
Christ was always on the go, meeting people, engaging with them, loving them, but then moving on to the next place, and the new opportunities to meet even more people.
Even as Christ was preparing to leave this earthly experience, his command to his followers was not to stay, but rather to go! And so, we do.
At our best in following the example of Christ, we take note of those around us, those traveling this same section of the path. We listen to gain insight to their unique, God-inspired lives. We ask questions to gain wisdom from perspectives of the world that we had not seen ourselves. We laugh together, and we cry together.
And no matter how long or how short our time together, we pause to give thanks to God for the blessing that has been received through all of it. May it be so for you and me, this day.
Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie.