I grew up in a little farming community in southern Illinois, not far from Vincennes, Indiana. When you cross the Lincoln Memorial Bridge into Vincennes and look to your right, you see the George Rogers Clark Memorial. It’s a National Parks Service site commemorating the capture of Fort Sackville by American forces in 1779. (Don’t worry. You won’t be tested on this.)
This beautiful national site was in my own backyard for over twenty years, and though I drove by it many times as a teenager, I only remember visiting this site once on an elementary school field trip.
About 3 weeks ago, my wife and I traveled back home for a visit and stopped at the George Rogers Clark Memorial. As we were walking around, reading plaques and taking pictures, I remember thinking…”This was right under my nose all those years. How did I miss it?”
Too many people race to the end of their lives, only to wind up saying, “How did I miss it?
- How did I miss my kids growing up?
- How did I miss sitting on the porch with my spouse?
- How did I miss all those beautiful sunrises and sunsets?
- How did I miss those times of laughter with my family?
- How did I miss the opportunity to tell them how much I love them.
- How did I miss the the sound of my spouse’s sighs as they drifted off to sleep?
- How did I miss just killing time with good friends?
- How did I miss those school events?
- HOW DID I MISS IT?
When I was a hospice chaplain, these were the kind of things my patients would say as they faced the end of their life. They would talk about the things they missed, because they weren’t there. They would talk about the things they missed, because they were there, but they weren’t really there. It didn’t really matter how or why they missed them. What mattered was they couldn’t get them back.
The things we don’t want to miss come at the intersections of time, people, and experiences. If you don’t want to come to the end of your life and be haunted by the things you missed, you must learn to approach life like an intersection.
- Slow down. We often hurry through the intersections of life trying to get to some sort of destination: graduation, marriage, a higher income level, the job we want, kids, a bigger house, a better vacations, etc. But in our hurry to get to something we think is important, we miss things that are more important. Then we get to that final destination of life’s end and ask, “How did I miss it?”
- Come to a complete stop. In our hurried lives, having to come to complete stop feels like an inconvenience. It feels like we’re not getting to where we need to be. But where we really need to be is in the present moment. Coming to a complete stop forces us to be a part of that moment.
- Look and listen. We can be somewhere and not really be there. Ask any teenager being lectured by a parent. It’s not enough just to stop and be in the moment. We must take in the moment. We must participate in the moment. To do that, we need to really look and listen to what’s going on in the moment. This will brand it in our heart and mind so that later we won’t have to say, “How did I miss it?”
- Pull away slowly. When the moment is over… when we’ve stopped and really looked, listen, and participated in what’s going on…then we can move on, but we should pull away slowly. Many times, when we think the moment is over, one more thing happens that we wouldn’t want to miss. The really good stuff often comes right at the end.
Take it from someone who has watched many people come to their final destination, only to look back and say, “How did I miss it?” Slow down. Come to a complete stop. Look and listen. Then pull away slowly. Do everything you can to avoid having to ask the question, “How did I miss it?”
Let’s take this to another level…
In the book of Psalms you’ll find these words, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Notice, this verse talks about “this” day; the day we’re in right now. It says nothing about whether the day is good or bad, or whether we’re in a hurry or not. We are to rejoice in “this” day.
If the idea of rejoicing on a bad day throws you, think of it this way… in every day, we are to look for the things that are good. The things that are important. The things that make even a lousy day matter. Doing this will make a bad day better and keep you from missing something you shouldn’t.
What are some of the things you don’t want to miss in your life? Leave a comment and let us know. You can encourage someone else not to miss it.
Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg