Those of you who have read my book know that two of my most cherished activities are to climb into bed at night, and to do yoga in my dark and quiet living room each morning while my family is still sleeping. Anyone who knows me well knows that another of my most cherished activities each day is to walk the shore of the lake I love.
About 18 months ago, I began to notice lumber and stone along the brushy edge above the strip of sandy beach I walk each day. Day by day, more materials showed up, followed by equipment, then workers, and eventually, it all miraculously became the most charming beach cottage I have ever seen. Inside and out. How do I know that? I couldn't resist the urge to peek inside the stone walls before the windows and doors went in. Trust me, inside and out, this is a pretty special place.
Every time I walked past, I would wonder who lived in that beautiful beach house? I soon learned that it had been built by the owners of one of the homes near the top of the ravine leading down to the beach. It wasn't even their primary residence. I'm ashamed to admit that I was rather envious.
Earlier this week, I met the owner of that house - I was introduced by a mutual friend, regarding a business transaction. The first thing I said was that I wanted to be first in line to buy his beach house. He replied that they would be removing him feet first from it, so I'd have to wait a pretty long time.
Our conversation began with getting to know each other, and talking about our families. He informed me that his second daughter has a rare and debilitating condition for which there is no cure. She has little or no control over her muscles, and will never speak nor walk. He showed me a photo of the two of them, both beaming with love. He said that he and his wife had traveled extensively before their children were born, and that they had planned to continue to do so with their growing family. Except that they cannot travel with their daughter, and they won't travel without her.
That beach house, the one I coveted for its beauty and proximity to the lake I love, is so much more than that. It is a place for a family to experience joy together. I had always felt it was quite special; now I know it to be true, in a far greater sense than I had ever imagined. I know I will look at it differently now, and no longer wonder, Who Lives In That House? I know who lives in that house, and more importantly, I know What Lives In that House - Love and Joy.
by Linda Ellis copyright 1996
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 that 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?
author of "JOY"