Friday, April 14 (4:14)
James: Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
One of the things I love about geology is how small I feel. I think of the power, forces, and time it took to form mountains and subsequently wear them away, and I am in awe. I have a better perspective in that anything I may be going through is minuscule in the grand scheme of things.
For we are but mist, here for a little while, and then we vanish. We don't know what tomorrow brings. I have known two people who were fatally hit by buses in Chicago. One was going to retire within a few months, and the other was walking along Michigan Avenue when the bus turned onto the sidewalk and ran over my friend. Events like those make me think about the importance of every moment.
Those tragic events also make me think about remembering those who have passed from this life and those who have been left behind. Whenever I think of someone who has passed, I send up a little prayer just to let them know someone loves and misses them. I do that with my ancestors as well. I know they are near and keeping an eye on me.
Twenty-plus years ago, I decided to put together a reunion. It was something my grandmother did for years to keep her family together; at the time, it had been eighteen years since she held a reunion. She had been the eldest of ten children, and the gatherings were usually held in her backyard. We held ours in Michigan, along the shores of Lake Michigan.
One night, we launched fireworks and had a bonfire outside the house next to a big tree. The kids in the group loved the fireworks and did their part to clean up the beach. They threw all the spent fireworks housing into the fire. Within minutes, a stray firework went straight through the branches of the tree and burst into a shower of light.
We were stunned that the stray didn't cause any damage to anyone in the area. One very wise relative said, "The ancestors guided that firework from hitting anyone." I could have sworn I saw my grandmother and all her siblings smiling down at us at that moment.
May we cherish each moment on earth and send prayers of gratitude to those who have passed from this life for leaving an impression on us and making us better people for having known them.