By John McCallum
It's amazing how life has a way of reminding us what's truly important.
The past week two events occurred in my life to remind of this fact. First, I received an email from my pastor that a member of our congregation had become sick at work and was transported to the hospital where it was discovered he had a cancerous mass on his brain.
He and his family are pretty active in my church, especially his wife who has filled a role on one of our shared ministry teams that plans and provides the weekly service. Their son has filled our pulpit on occasions, and the family recently faced personal challenges with their daughter, so having Tim go down with a brain tumor was a blow.
Fortunately the surgery went well, but that was the easy part. As someone who faced cancer recovery with a relative, I know the hardest is yet to come.
The second event was a visit over the weekend from my only surviving uncle. Terry was my dad's youngest sister's husband, someone we used to visit frequently when I was child and teenager but grew apart from as everyone got older and was consumed by life.
We reconnected in February 2011 when I drove down to Sacramento for my aunt's memorial service. When Terry emailed me earlier this year and told me he was going to swing through Spokane on his roundabout way home from a conference in Nebraska and could he pitch his sleeping bag at my place for few nights, I was overjoyed.
The two nights and a day Terry spent here with myself and the rest of my family were long needed, especially when he and I stayed up late Saturday night and talked more as men rather than as uncle to nephew. As he drove off Monday morning I was grateful for the moment, but a little sad.
It occurred to me that even though we had vowed to stay in touch, things can happen that could make it the last time we get together. Was everything spoken, or asked that needed to be, neither of us will know.
The same goes for my fellow church member now recovering from brain surgery. Have we really spent getting to know one another, to become friends more than on a once-a-week basis? (Less than that during football season.)
What about those around you? Are you connected enough with all your relatives? Do you know enough about your co-workers, really about them, to call them friends?
Societal issues and conflicts often seem to carry more weight in our personal lives than they deserve. And too often we let others with an agenda not our own become the motivation behind our beliefs and our pursuits.
Lately, technology has begun to create distances between us. We'd rather text than talk. We let individuals and groups who are more concerned with control and their own wellbeing tell us what not only what we should believe is important, but how we should treat others who may be different, and not share our viewpoints. We let them push us into the trap of judgment and condemnation, focusing on the mundane instead of looking at the bigger picture.
That's wrong. In many cases, it's not what's truly important and doesn't matter.
But once something is gone you can't get it back, and nowhere is that more important than personal relationships. That's what I learned this past week. I don't ask you to care, but I do hope you might find ways to do the same.