Wednesday, December 27, 2006

You Can't Take it With You...

You can’t take it with you…

…but that doesn’t stop most of the world’s population from spending most of their lives trying. "Carpe Pecunia" (seize the money) instead of Carpe Diem seems to be the operative phrase of our day.

Case in point…

In today’s news, James Brown, died just this last Christmas day. It was very characteristic of such a showman as one of his friends pointed out - it all but guaranteed that all of the papers would be filled with news of his death. He left behind a wife named Tomi Rae Hynie. No matter how you may feel about her marriage to Mr. Brown, the fact remains is that she is raising Mr. Browns child. An associated press article is quoted as saying “James Browns lawyer said the later singer and his partner weren’t legally married and that she was locked out of his South Carolina home for estate legal reasons.”

The same article quotes Mr. Brown’s wife as saying “This is my home, she told a reporter outside the house. I don’t have any money. I don’t have anywhere to go.”

It never ceases to amaze me, how often people will spend their lives, and their souls, in pursuit of material wealth. Sadder still is how often so many of these same people will hurt others around them, ruin other lives and their own, all for money - and then die with it.

There is an adage that says, “I death we are all equal”

The thought here being that when a wealthy person dies, he is then equal with the poorest person. But is this really so? Think about it for a moment.

When you leave this earth what will you leave behind? If atheists are to be believed, the only thing you will be leaving behind is a dead body rotting in the ground. The sort of “live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse” mentality. Yes, there are many cases of wealthy people donating money to charity. But I have already discussed the doctor I met who made sure everyone he met found out how much money he donated to charity. Grandmother, God rest her soul, used to have a phrase to describe this. She would call it “old people trying to work their way into heaven.”

When YOU die what will YOU leave behind?

As those who have read this column before know, Mother Superior and I care for an elderly woman (who I will call Agnes) who needs round the clock care, 24-7. The last few years, the woman we care for has despaired of her condition and still having to remain on this earth while carrying such a burden. All three of us where in a car late in the evening of December 25th. I was half asleep in the back seat. I heard Agnes from the front seat, once again questioning her very existence, claiming her life served no purpose. Without even thinking about it, still have asleep I heard myself say, “You allow to nuns the chance to serve God.”

When Agnes dies she will leave behind the many life lessons she taught me - lessons on how to serve others, and do so cheerfully. It is one thing to talk about serving others. The idea is easy to conceive of and hold in our minds. But carrying that out - putting it into practice. Aye there lays the rub. Some can be an usher in church on Sunday mornings. They may mow their neighbor’s lawn. But to live a life in service to others…that is another matter altogether. Even when one lives a life in service to others, harder still is to always do it cheerfully…emphasis on the word ALWAYS. Serving others cheerfully when you are tired, when you simply don’t feel like doing it, or when you are hurting yourself - that is another matter altogether.

One of the people that was able to do this, who comes to mind instantly, every time I think of this, is the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. When she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by then President Ronald Regan in 1985, he said she was the only person he ever awarded the medal to, who was likely to melt it down and sell it, so she could use the money to feed others.

Yes it is true that God loves us all equally. But think of this.

When someone who has lived all their lives filled with hatred, greed and hording wealth like a miser dies what do they leave behind and what do they take with them? What they take with them is the same greedy hateful attitudes and the bad karma of having put those attitudes into practice.

Now what do you think happened when the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta died? What did she leave behind? Many, many people whose lives were enriched by her presence. She left behind the many of the worlds poor that she took care of when no one else would. She and her sisters lived the same lives that those whom they served did. What did she take with her? The gratitude and love of all those she left behind.

Now imagine the miser and the Blessed Mother Teresa standing before God for judgment. What do you think will happen? Do you still think they will be equal in the eyes of God? Or will God think that Mother Teresa had been a good and faithful servant and used her life as God willed?

So I leave you today with one final question.

What will you leave behind?

God bless you all,

Sister Julie

No comments: