Me: I woke up this morning!
Wally: Big deal?!
Me: Yeah, it's a big deal.
Wally: But you wake up every morning.
...So Wally is that annoying voice in my head. We all have a Wally. He (or she) tells you you're nothing special and whatever you're feeling good about is just ordinary, common, unremarkable. Wally loves to tell you, "Get over yourself, snowflake, there's nothing special about you."
Wally is a jerk. Don't listen to Wally.
I have a friend who is in heaven now. He was the father of three boys, the husband of a wonderful lady. He was an attorney by trade, but this was only the role through which God put him in touch with so many people. His personality did the rest, and this man knew and was friends with more people than most of us have ever met.
He was endlessly sunny. A basketball parent, he was always positive and upbeat about the teams, the kids, the whole experience. He stood out for this, as many of us grumbled about playing time or strategy or travel or lost weekends sitting in gyms.
My friend never grumbled. I truly believe that he didn't know how and he never intended to learn.
If he had a Wally, my friend locked him in the basement. After that, he never went down there to check on him.
I was not a close friend, but I felt like one. He was always so glad to see me, smiling, joking, asking a question or two to clearly show he knew and valued me.
He had an air of the old-school Irish politician, the guy who was always impeccably dressed, always smiling, always greeting. He knew everybody. Everybody knew him. And liked him.
Unlike the politician, he was sincere. There was no pretext to how he interacted with people. He loved and cared for them. As individuals, not transactions or votes or clients or revenue sources.
He always found the common thread that he had with another person. Whenever I finished chatting with him, I always felt better. He was a genuinely kind, caring person who would do anything for anybody anytime.
I realize all of this now.
He has been in heaven since September 2013. Since his arrival, God hasn't stopped smiling once.
What I didn't realize then was that he would continue to teach me things nearly seven years later.
Today's lesson is the value of two things: (1)waking up and (2)the importance of locking Wally, or Gwendolyn, or Spiro, or Concetta, or Doofus or whatever the name of your annoying voice, in the basement in a place you can't hear them.
Now that you have done the second, concentrate on the first: You woke up this morning. Do not underestimate how special this is! Not everyone gets to wake up, you know.
You have today.
"This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
The words 'rejoice and be glad' leave a lot of room for interpretation. They are meant to be that way. They are meant to give you 'running room' to rejoice and be glad your way.
You accomplish this by being YOU, the uniquely crafted work of art that God made you to be. By being present and appreciative of all the opportunities that living offers. You can use your gifts, whatever they are, to bring the piece of the puzzle that only you can bring. If you don't bring it, the puzzle never looks quite right.
What you do matters.
My friend lived every day like it was his last. In so doing, he left a legacy of love, kindness, and respect for others. He left an example for us to emulate, each in our own way.
"Lord, thank you for letting me wake up today, and for the memory of our good friend who left us too soon.
Thank you for the memory of his love of others, and his relentless spreading of joy wherever he went.
Thank you that nearly seven years later, his example is still teaching us.
Lord, we pray for the strength to emulate his example and be the people you made us to be.
Help us bring our unique talents, skills, and abilities, along with our love and care of others, to make the world a better place.
Lord, thank you for blessing us with this wonderful man. May he rest in your perfect peace having done your work so well.
In Jesus' name, we pray, AMEN!"
Thank you for reading. God bless you!