When I was first asked to do a blog for the week of June 21, 2020 my thoughts immediately went to some great feasts around that time: the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (our community’s patronal feast) and the Nativity of John the Baptist, the precursor of the Lord. Then I realized that Sunday, June 21st, was the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Easter Season and all of its wonderful liturgical celebrations have passed. The two Sundays following Pentecost were Solemnities celebrating the Most Blessed Trinity and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (familiarly known as Corpus Christi). Now our Liturgical attention is turned back to Ordinary Time.
Most of our liturgical year is spent in Ordinary Time, as many as 34 weeks out of 52. Similarly, in our lives the time we spend getting through ordinary days far outnumber the days celebrating special occasions. The time of our birth and the time of our death are two major happenings that all humans experience. It is what we do with the ordinary time between these happenings that really counts. This reminds me of a poem someone shared with me years ago entitled “The Dash” by Linda Ellis.
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end
He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years
For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth
For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while
So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?
Copyright © 2020 Inspire Kindness, thedashpoem.com
We may not be ready for our eulogy to be read, but it is always good to examine exactly how we are living in these most tumultuous of ordinary times. I think that most of us would agree that these particular ordinary times are anything but ordinary. The question is, “How are you living your ‘dash’ during these most unusual of ordinary times?” Whether it is a virus that has wreaked havoc on our very lives as well as our livelihood or the continuing long-suffering struggle of people of color and other minorities for equal justice and basic human rights, there is pain and suffering all around us. In our striving to respond to all of this as Jesus would, where do we turn for help? Scripture tells us what Jesus had to say. I invite you to spend time with either or both of these passages, Matthew 5: 3-12 and Luke 6: 17-49, to find an answer.
By Sister Janet Marie Flemming, OSB