I believe that it is not dying that people are afraid of.  Something else, something more unsettling and more tragic than dying frightens us.  We are afraid of never having lived, of coming to the end of our days with the sense that we were never really alive, that we never figured out what life was for. – Harold Kushner

The great Presbyterian pastor Donald Grey Barnhouse was once riding in a funeral procession in Philadelphia when he noticed a large cargo truck running in front of the procession.  From the way the sun was positioned, he noticed that the truck was casting a large shadow on the sidewalk.  That shadow crossed light poles, road signs, and even people, and didn’t harm anything.  No one would want to be in front of the truck, mind you, but the shadow was harmless.

Every one of us was born on the other side of something called “labor.”  We enter the world completely helpless and fragile, totally dependent on the protection, care and kindness of others.  We borrow the oxygen and assorted things for a span of time the Bible calls a “vapor.”   Despite our claims to ownership, we take no possessions with us.  And we end our sojourn on earth passing through something called a “shadow.”

Birth is a labor soon forgotten…

Life is a vapor quickly fading…

Possessions are an illusion suddenly passing…

Death is shadow silently creeping…

Is there any wonder we struggle sometimes to know what’s real?  And what’s valuable? [click to continue…]

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The Estate Sale

by Andy Wood on July 11, 2008

in Consumers, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, Money

Estate SaleI have eye-opening experiences in odd places.  I want to tell you about one that took place a few years ago at a house on 80th Street in Lubbock, a few houses away from where we used to live.  Our former neighbors were having an estate sale, and I have to confess, I’m a sucker.  So I strolled down to take it all in.  The sale was professionally managed, well organized, and quite thorough.  They were selling what appeared to be everything that wasn’t bolted to the walls or floor.

Like most estate sales, this was a trip back in time.  And somewhere amid the 8-track tapes, 70s-era stereo, and the costume jewelry, it happened.  Somewhere in my own mind, I was standing in the middle of my own estate sale.  Watching crowds of strangers pick over my treasures that, over the years, I had spent tens of thousands of dollars on.  Seeing them bargain with somebody over curtains or books or something – for dimes on the dollar, of course.  “Dear God,” I half-exclaimed and half-prayed, “tell me there’s more to my life than old stuff to be bartered over!”

As I continued to wander through the house, I could identify with the fun and excitement of this family as they had purchased that new appliance, received that special Christmas gift, or took advantage of those today-only prices and sales.  In so many ways, this was a typical American family.  Nice house.  Nice stuff, albeit touched by time.  And now all of it was being left behind.

It’s bad etiquette, I suppose, to actually ask about the people whose possessions we’re pilfering through.  Are they still living?  Do they have family?  Could I be standing next to their daughter or niece?  But I couldn’t help but wonder.  As I stood in what once was their home, I felt sure I was looking at a poor reflection of who these people really were.

[click to continue…]

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