Ya know, one of the things I do every day is to check my “Memories” on Facebook. Sometimes there are little things, silly things. And sometimes there are memories that remind me of milestones, things I’ve done, places we’ve gone, moves we’ve made.
And sometimes there are huge things, not so pleasant things, like memories of some of Scott’s health scares, of people we’ve lost.
And every one of these Memories that Facebook is so happy to remind me of helps me to remember …to be kind….to be thankful.
The Gospel appointed (Lk 17:11-19) for today tells us about Jesus healing ten lepers. And yep, they were all happy and excited, and I’m sure that would have been a pretty major Facebook memory for them. Yay! But ya know, only one of the ten, one, had the grace to turn to Jesus and say, “Thank you.”
As y’all know, I lost my daddy twelve years ago, and Momma died five years ago. And as painful as that was, my sibs and I were privileged to actually be the caretakers for both our parents in their last months and weeks and days. During that time, we all had the chance to thank Momma and Daddy for being the amazing parents that they were. We had the rare opportunity to make sure that we had nothing left unsaid, that our parents knew how much they were loved and honored and appreciated. We had the opportunity, which we grabbed with both hands, to say thank you.
In the past however long I’ve been on Facebook, some of y’all have held my hand through the health scares (terrors?) that Scott has experienced. Heart attacks. Cancer. Mega-major hernia surgery. These things were life changing. Relationship changing too. In any of these scenarios, I could have lost him. And let me tell you, that helped me to learn to appreciate him even more than I already did. These things taught me to be ever and oh so thankful that he is still with me. These things taught me to make sure that he knows just how very much he is loved and appreciated.
The vast majority of folks who know me well know that not only did I teach, but I spent most of my adult life working in flower shops. And yes, while there are many, many happy memories associated with weddings and proms and births and anniversaries, there also are so many sad memories of families and loved ones ordering flowers for someone who has died. And invariably, those who ordered flowers in person for someone close to them, especially family members, almost always said one of two things: The last thing I said to him/her….. or…… The last thing he/she said to me was…. And for the most part not one of those people had expected the last thing said to actually BE the last thing said. Some of the more tragic things I was told was, “We argued.” “I wasn’t very nice.” “She was mad at me.” And of course there was always, “I love you.”
So you can imagine that, there, too, I learned my lesson. One does not get to be 64 years old without losing many, many folks who were loved. It’s for this reason that I almost always end a conversation with folks I care about with an “I love you” or a “Hugs!” or a heart emoji, or something to let them know they are important. You can bet that I want my last words to you to be positive, to let you know that you are loved and important and seen.
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote, “do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26.) I’m gonna go one step further here and say, “Do not end a conversation with someone you care for without telling them in some way how important they are to you.”
Now, with all that being said, how much more so does Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians resonate when he writes in 1 Thessalonians (5:16-18) “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
If you were to leave this world suddenly, would the folks you love know that you loved them? Would our God know that you love Him? Let me encourage you to make it so. Say thank you. Say “I love you.” Frequently. By your words, by your actions.
I’m gonna close with this prayer, thought to be written in 1912 by Father Esther Bouquerel, and is more commonly known as “The Prayer of St. Francis.”
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.