editor’s note :: i’m taking a break this month to work on a new manuscript. some of my closest friends have agreed to fill this space in my absence with their thoughts on bravery and what it means for our faith. you can read the rest of the posts here. today, ronne shares her words. Her picture was beautiful. It gleamed like treasure, perhaps a discovery hidden in the pages of an album filled with better days. As stories of her kindness echoed through the tear-stained room, I looked at her birth date. April 1949. She was just 63.
I thought back to my mom’s picture, displayed in front of a casket adorned with yellow rose petals. It gleamed like treasure. The handwritten notes to each of her children shared the sparks of future hopes that she somehow knew would be quieted far too soon. She said to always be bold, to never give up, to stand tall and look up.
She had a list of places to visit and people to kiss. She had prayed to mark everything off that list before saying “goodbye.” Her list tenderly bid her farewell. She was just 63.
There was still a list of the life Suzanne wanted to live. There were weddings and anniversaries and graduations - now quieted sparks. I held her son as he wept, remembering the day my not-quite-ready-for-this feet stood in the same place as his. The day the list was passed from one to the next with hushed tenderness – the day I moved closer to my own 63.
The one that, according to the calendar, will arrive in a decade.
But 63 is tricky. It doesn’t always follow the calendar. It doesn’t do well with schedules. For some of us, it lingers long. For others, it comes without warning. It looks each of us in the eye with a wink and a smirk. It loves it when we quake just a bit.
But then there’s the list. Call it a bucket list or an adventure list or simply things we want to do. That list stares 63 in the face. It says “there is more.”
I look now at my list. There are
19, 20, 21 things on it and it’s still growing. It looks so different than the one passed to me by my mom – it includes living in a third-world country, a tattoo, a book, and learning to fry really great chicken.
But it is the same list. It’s filled with places to visit and people to kiss. It’s filled with special events and family and friends I know and friends I’ve not yet met. It’s filled with sparks of future hopes. Every line added is an invitation to be bold, to never give up, to stand tall and look up.
Yes, there is more. Hidden in that list, in the small white space that weaves its way around the numbers and letters, is a greater story. It says rise, embrace, believe, dance, laugh, cry, stumble – and love each and every day. It sees grace and sings faith. It says endings will always better than beginnings, and the here-and-now is just as beautiful as the not yet. It says there is Life that is bigger than life, and that life is worth living every single moment. It says take heart, take flight. It says soar bravely.
What is on your list? And what should I add to mine?
The List. Take THAT 63.
- Write a list of adventures and share it with others, so when I am feeling less than brave about living every ounce of life to the fullest, I can be reminded that every day I’m alive is an opportunity to be a song of praise to my King.
- Sit on chilly metal bleachers on blustery spring mornings and cheer my grandson on as he puts on shin guards, long socks, and cleats and joins his team in a great game of soccer, blabbering far too much about how the moment reminds me of blustery spring mornings watching his dad do the same thing.
- Go on a 3-day roadtrip with my best friend. There will be no particular destination in mind, and we’ll savor local fare in small towns, drive along back country roads, find misfit treasures, and be amazed by the beauty of God’s precious imagination. Yes, we’ll use a map. That way our husbands will feel better about our departure.
- Finish what I started, and get my masters degree – even if nothing comes of it. It’s one of those “personal dream” things that I carry in my heart.
- Spend an extended season in a foreign land, caring for the discarded. While Guatemala and Uganda call to me, I’ll be willing to go wherever…
- Run three half-marathons in a single year so I can get one of those cool Rock & Roll Marathon Series Heavy Medal awards. While I would love to get the “Rock Star” award, I’m thinking 5 in a year might be the end of my toenails.
- Gently hold the hand of someone as they say “hello” to eternity. I think it would be an honor.
- Go on a really great vacation with my family. The destination really doesn’t matter. Family does.
- Learn to fry. My mom could fry the best chicken, the best sweet potato pies. Frying terrifies me.
- Have a picnic. An honest-to-goodness fried chicken picnic (hence the need to learn to fry), with lawn darts and Frisbee and naps on quilts. With at least 10 friends.
- Watch my grandson laugh about how awkward mortarboards are to wear – and then stare in the mirror with a little bit of “wow” when he sees himself in one and realizes its meaning.
- Drink a pint in a pub in a small town in Ireland while chatting about nothing in particular with the locals. Just because. I don’t really like beer, but it seems like something that just needs to be done.
- Journey to India to serve orphans. There’s always been a tug to travel there. I’ve been told it will be an assault on all my senses. I am ready to be assaulted.
- Reach into the sky and catch the sunrise with my husband on Lake Travis. That’s right – sunRISE. Where we can see new mercies sparkle in the growing light.
- Crash a large, prestigious event. Perhaps I’ll try out a fancy accent and pretend to be a princess. I think everyone should keep a little make-believe in their reality.
- Introduce my family to my “family” in Guatemala – minister alongside them at Pequeno Refugio in Xela and Mi Especial Tesoro in Chimaltenango.
- Write about the overwhelming splendor of where God lives, and have others illustrate it with photography and artwork. His neighborhood is beautiful and restorative. Writing about it brings joy.
- Learn to make chapati, kurtoskalacs, and papanasi, knowing every bite will remind me that the other side of this globe has some really beautiful moments just waiting to happen.
- Build a huge sandcastle on a sparkling beach near crystalline water – with a tower and a moat and a place to sit and pretend to be royalty. We will bring a crown and name a kid the King or Queen.
- Get that second tattoo. Yes, the second one. The one that says “selah.” The one that reminds me to deliberately breathe, to take in each and every moment as a gift.
- Write love letters to those who mean the most to me. Hand-written ones, complete with unapologetic misspellings and a smudge or two. Messy ones. Because love is messy and life is messy. And messy can be divine.