The recent death of a notable American – Barbara Bush – has been in the headlines. Mrs. Bush was regarded by many as a remarkable woman who lived life with dignity and with love for faith, family and country.
National and world leaders have been vocal in praise and admiration for her. Former president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have called her “the rock of a family dedicated to public service” and “an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit.”
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley characterized her as “a woman of great faith, great strength, and an unwavering love of country.”
Mrs. Bush’s passing is not the only death making headlines right now. Jennifer Riordan of Albuquerque, one of 149 people on board a Southwest Airlines flight, died after being partially sucked out of a plane window when an engine exploded.
After an emergency landing (for which the pilot was praised for her “calm handling of the situation”), Riordan’s family confirmed her death in a statement saying: “Jennifer’s vibrancy, passion and love infused our community and reached across our country. Her impact on everything and everyone she touched can never be fully measured.”
Every day, our local papers print the obituaries of neighbors in our own community.
Whether noted internationally or locally, whether from tragic events or natural causes, we cannot avoid the reality of mortality – that of others and, therefore, our own.
Mortality might be a subject that we might wish to avoid. Nevertheless, we are unable to escape from our earthly destiny. In view of this reality, we are reminded that today might well be our day.
But, death is not the only daily event. For most of us, today might be a day on which we are called simply to care for someone in distress, to show affection, to offer compassion, to protect our environment, or to exhibit faith, hope and love.
The point here is that today is the day. now is the moment.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “We are now faced with the fact … that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now.”
Dr. King might well have been reflecting on a verse from the Bible that reminds us, “Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring … For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
The “fierce urgency of now” calls us to be conscious of the opportunity that only today can offer.
Christians, Jews, Muslims and others of many faiths see the opportunity to live in these moments as a beautiful and exciting preparation for an eternal time in the presence of God.
Whether you share this view or not, today is the only day that you and I have in front of us.
It might be good to ask, “What do I plan to do with this day?”
Your answer might well enrich your life and that of others.
Joe Crowley is director of adult discipleship at Lowcountry Presbyterian Church in Bluffton. email@example.com