Shining Brightly

Imagine a beautiful, colorful stained-glass window, 30’ long. Now imagine a stone has broken one of the panes. 

Rev. Margaret Stortz recently wrote an essay on this subject and noted that even though the broken pane was small, and not brightly colored, its shattering was deeply felt by all who saw it.

So too when one of us dies (transitions, passes, choose your verb), those of us left behind feel the loss deeply.

People die everyday and we will too. 

When I was almost 25, my brother Ricky died in a car accident (if he were still with us, he’d be known as Rick).

His death was devastating to me and to my family. I went from being one of six kids in the family to one in five remaining.

Never before had I understood the vast difference one number, one person can make in the fabric of our lives.

Yes, It’s hard to “lose” someone to the inevitable. Yes, our lives are forever changed when a loved one dies.

Yes, I believe in the value of then feeling that loss, of remembering the good of that person, and the lessons learned as a result of their presence in our lives.

I am so grateful to Ricky for teaching me so much about life and death. Of course I’d rather he not be the one who taught me, but I’m glad to have learned them.

A broken pane in a stained glass window can be repaired and replaced. The space left when a loved one dies isn’t reparable. It’s something we live with forever more.

All of us are touched by deaths of people we love. Death is part of the continuum of life. It’s not death we abhor, it’s the feeling of loss, the sense that someone vital to our life is missing.

Yet as long as we can deeply feel their presence in our heart, they are never truly gone.

The time it takes to mend our shattered hearts is equal to the importance those deaths hold in our lives.

I’m sending this out to you on my Birthday, a day I love to celebrate (seriously, I still love it as much as I did when I was seven years old!). 

Why am I sending a message about living and dying on my birthday?

Here’s the thing. No matter who we are or what we do with our lives, each and every one of us matters to the fabric of the world. 

We are transitory, just visitors on the planet, yet each of us makes a difference. 

We never know how our lives affect those of others. Whether or not we know those other people, we are connected. 

Our lives affect the fabric of life. 

What difference do you want to make with your life? Is your star shining?

What difference do you see yourself making? 

Are the answers to those questions the same or at least similar?

What can you do today to nudge those two answers closer together?

How can you brighten the star that you are?

These are thoughts to have on occasion. We see ourselves in a mirror every day, yet reflection is a tool we often take for granted.  

Pausing to reflect on life, and our place within it, is a tool used to craft a life that matters. We want our life to matter to ourselves AND let’s remember that it matters to everyone else (even just a teeny bit to those we don’t know).