I've had a melancholy two weeks. I think that's fine, though. Real life is not always a constant high. I find that some of the most profound truths I've learned about life and about myself have been in times where I've ventured into valleys. Thankfully, I do not stay down forever and I do remember to look for life lessons for each valley that I traverse. So, bear with me as I blog this out of my system...
This past week, over a billion of Earth's inhabitants celebrated Chinese New Year. Considering that's a good quarter of our planet's population, it was strange that I should have felt so lonely on Chinese New Year day. Growing up in multi-cultural Malaysia, Chinese New Year was always a time of laughter, love, family, food, fun, noise. Open Houses everywhere, people of different faiths and races visiting each other, wishing each other well...and oh, those little red packets of $$$ (ang pows).
Chinese New Year is not celebrated in such a grand manner here, at least not in my little circle and so I am homesick each year at this time. You would think after 2 decades living away from home, I'd have outgrown this feeling but I haven't. What's my lesson?
It's simple - appreciate what you have while you have it. Love your family while you have them. Hug your kids while they are young and want to be hugged. Snuggle with your spouse while your love is fresh and build on that. Spend time with your parents while they are still alive. Tell your folks how much you appreciate their sacrifices over the years for you, for your education, for your well-being, for their grandkids...
The cycle of life is inevitable. Let's not wait until it's too late before we encourage, affirm, inspire, apologize, forgive, live and love.
This cycle of life was evident later in the week for me when a cherished friend and mentor died after a 3-year battle with cancer. He was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer...only a handful or so of other recorded cases worldwide. The doctors really did not know how to treat him, having him undergo all sorts of experimental stuff. The man was a walking miracle for 3 years, doctors initially gave him 6 weeks. His Muslim doctor, a foremost authority on cancer from Egypt said he was a miracle! Sometimes we said he was a cat with 9 lives, each time he was hospitalized, he seemed to bounce back within weeks and was back to his usual stuff, meeting with people, playing tennis ... he was 73!
Well, this week he did not bounce back. At the memorial service yesterday, there was an "Open Mike" period where people could share about the impact my mentor had had on them. Church was packed. I heard things like his life being one of influence and integrity, that he was undaunted by life - if there was a hurdle, he'd leap it; if there was a problem, he'd solve it. He was lavish with his affirmation.
I have to tell you that he was a very wealthy man, rubbed shoulders with Presidents and CEOs all over North America and even a few Prime Ministers. However, as was mentioned by so many that he touched, he was generous with his time. He made time with those of us not Presidents and CEOs and when he listened to you during an outing for coffee or lunch, he would listen to you like there was nobody else around. I was one of those privileged enough to be called for coffee... and Joe was just one of the greatest individuals I've ever known.
Someone had said that Joe was like "royalty" and yet when he shook your hand warmly or chatted with you over moccacchino (with more cocoa than coffee - he introduced it to me), he never made you feel small or insignificant. Rather the opposite. He always listened, challenged and desired to help others achieve their full potential. He said he wanted to be remembered as someone who cared. And cared he did, not just for what he did but for all the people with whom he came in contact, no matter how "big" or "small" they were. Joe epitomized His Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in all that he said and did.
That's another bit of royalty for you..Jesus...left the throne of heaven to mingle among common folk... among the likes of me and you .... telling all who would listen just how much we are loved. Anyone listening?
So.... when the service was done and people filed out to the reception, I continue to sit in a pew, watching a slideshow of Joe's life. Cried. I knew that when the slideshow was over, I would not see Joe again...at least not on earth. I cried some more when they finally stopped the show. Thankfully, I'm a girl and I'm allowed to cry. :)
In the end, I chose to say "Goodbye" in French... I said "Au Revoir". I thought it was more appropriate. It literally means (goodbye) till we meet again. Because of our faith in Jesus, I know I will see Joe again...
What's the lesson for me? Run the race... and run the race well...in a way that only I can. What I mean is, live life with my own personal signature. Joe was a one-of-a-kind. And so am I. I was created for a purpose and I'm the best one for the job so I better do the best job I can.
So folks, get to it...live well. Put your "signature" on all that you do.
To my family - despite the miles and years between us, it seems like I love you more today than I did before. This is all good!
To my Wednesday nite Bible study group who for the past 4 years have successfully managed to surprise and celebrate me and my Chinese heritage one week before Chinese New Year, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your love. You are more family than you know.
My encouragement for these coming weeks comes from the Word that is alive and active. See references below from Acts and Ecclesiastes that will keep me going.
Blessings to all. Take care.
From one man he made all the people of the world. Now they live all over the earth. He decided exactly when they should live. And he decided exactly where they should live. For everything there is a season,a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance