Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fragile Handle with Care

Over the last few days I’ve been riveted to the TV watching the coverage of the earthquake; tsunami and nuclear reactor melt down in Japan. I’m so grieved for those people. Life will never be the same for so many and if the whole nuke thing goes from really bad to really worse, those areas will be uninhabitable for many years.

But what’s come to mind in the last few days is how fragile life is. I know we humans are a resilient lot, but we are also very fragile when it comes to our dependency upon modern technology and conveniences. Granted, we could once again learn subsistence living from the ground, but it would take a generation or two to get it dialed in so we wouldn’t actually starve to death. But really, who among us would be able to live without going nuts, if we didn’t have electricity, or heat or decent shelter? Few of us likely could make it very long.

I’ve never been homeless and don’t plan on it anytime in the near future, but being homeless in America is probably far better than many of the people who live around this world in third world countries, eking out a living from garbage dumps and paltry little vegetable gardens, and eating the random stray cat or dog. I suppose if that’s all I had, I could pull it off, but since all I’ve known is blessing and warmth and prosperity and safety... I’d likely crack under the pressure of such a radical life style change.

So what my heart has been telling me these days is – life is Fragile Handle with Care. Oh not just the lives of the unborn or the octogenarians, but I mean ALL LIFE. Despite our intelligence and resilience to make it through all sorts of difficulties, we are fragile people.

One good swift kick in the head can kill you, or a Dorito stuck in the wind pipe and it’s curtains, or the wrong combination of two once thought benevolent medications combined to make an unintended Kevorkian cocktail and bingo the old heart goes into arrhythmic thrombosis and your prickly, cold sweating skin is history. Or how about the random car accident; or the unforeseen melanoma on your shoulder you thought was just an age spot, but 8 months later you’re wasting away with terminal cancer.

You get the point. Now factor into your actuarial tables “Mother Nature” having a bad day and well not much hope can be garnered from statistics like that. So what am I saying? Life is tough and thick necked when everything is going well for you, but shut off the electrical grid and have a few terrorists toss a dirty suitcase bomb of nuclear isotopes into your local high school and oh yeah have the ground heave up about sixteen feet or so and then crack like a whip… oh and add a thirty foot wall of water that stops at nothing roll across your little home town and well, I think life would go from being tough and thick necked to wimpy and pencil necked real fast.

I mean, we believe somehow we are beyond cataclysmic loss and failure, and our jobs and homes will always be intact and gas will never break four dollars and everything will remain as it always has been, but oh how wrong and fragile we really are.

Since I’m a minister, I’ve been by the bed side of many of my parishioners as well as the bed side of my father when death comes calling, and the fragility of life is clearly seen when the monitor goes flat line and their chest ceases the up and down movement of natural respiration. And do you know what? There’s no fanfare or freak out. It’s just over. Fragile is the life we’ve been given and grace is the mechanism that’s allowed us to make it thus far so as to have such creature comforts and conveniences that no population in the history of mankind could have ever imagined.

But I still say life is Fragile Handle with Care. Or maybe it’s the fragility of the human heart, the soul, and the insides that are fragile? I mean have you ever seen a broken heart? For that matter have you ever heart one break? Yikes its proof that life is fragile.

So the next time you thing you have tomorrow and everything’s going to stay the same, think of Japan. Think of Haiti. Think of any and all of the people groups and lands that have suffered over the centuries and know that although humanity has advanced and we really think we’ve got this life mastered; all it takes is a magnitude 10.0 earthquake to change it all.

What life you have before you, remember its Fragile Handle with Care! You never know when it’s going to be called from you.

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