One of Mom’s last wishes was that we, her children, wouldn’t start fighting over anything after she was gone. She’s seen too many families fall apart after the parents are gone and she didn’t want that to happen to us. Fortunately, we like each other too much to stop talking to each other.
Another of Mom’s last wishes was that we wash all her clothes and give them away. True to character, she wanted to make sure someone would benefit from her departure. In her honour, and to help Mom’s husband prepare to move to a new apartment, two of my siblings and I spent much of yesterday packing up her clothes and other belongings, finding homes for whatever we could.
This afternoon, I took Mom’s two pairs of glasses to an optometrist shop in the mall. “Do you accept old glasses for charity?” I asked. “Yes,” said the young woman, and I handed them to her.
As the glasses changed hands, I thought to myself “this young woman has no idea what the meaning of this moment is. To her, they’re just a couple of old pairs of glasses. She has no idea that they were once worn by the woman I loved most in this world. She has no idea that I’m handing them over to her because I’m living out the legacy of generosity that this woman taught me. She has no comprehension of the thousands of times I looked through those glasses to the eyes that smiled behind them. She doesn’t know that these glasses are connected to the face that was love and warmth and home for me.”
The woman thanked me and I turned away, tears in my eyes. Even though to her it was an ordinary moment in an ordinary day, it was a sacred moment to me.
As I walked away, I wondered “how many moments have I missed that were sacred for other people? How many times have people done or said something significant in my presence and I have (unintentionally, of course) simply brushed the moment off as mundane, ordinary, or even boring? How many stories have I heard from people that took all their courage to share and I have simply assumed they were ordinary stories that had no meaning?”
I took the thought a little further and wondered what would happen if I began to live with the intention of treating every moment as sacred.
What if I treat every encounter I have – with strangers, friends, or family – as if it might be the moment that the Sacred speaks to them? What if I assume that the people I meet could be facing monumental change or be floundering in oceans of grief and the simple encounter with me might feel like a life-line or a place of safety for them? What if I begin to look for the Sacred in each person I meet, expecting to witness something in them that is meant to speak to me? What if I assume a life could be altered by any ordinary smile, kind word, or gracious apology? What if I listen to every story that is shared, believing that it takes courage to share it and that my listening elevates the sacred in the moment for the person who is sharing it?
I can only imagine that, if this becomes my intention, I will live out the legacy of love and generosity my Mom left behind in her last wishes. There won’t be much fighting among my siblings with her life as our model.