How Then Ought We to Live?

Just over a year ago, the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami occurred. I’m sure you have seen all the photos on the news and youtube. Over 20,000 people lost their lives in a matter of minutes.

Parents lost their children, children lost their whole family. One story that remains in my mind is that of a couple who lost both their children when an elementary school collapsed. They were hunting among the debris and had found the body of one. They couldn’t stop hunting for their other boy, even though they knew he was dead. Somewhere in their hearts, they must have held a whisper of hope that he would be found safe somewhere. A few days later, they found the body.

In a matter of minutes, the world changed for thousands of people. The things they cared about up until that moment irrevocably changed. It didn’t matter anymore if they could afford a new car, or if their son could pass the entrance exam to an elite school or when they could get the kitchen remodeled.

Some events remind us of what is important in life. Certainly not material things if they could all disappear in an instant. People are important. Our loved ones.

But what of those who lost their only children. How will they pick up the pieces and go on with life. That couple looked to be about 40. They could have another child but I somehow doubted that even this would take away the pain.

When confronted with such great devastation, we realize that the things we place importance on in our daily lives don’t really matter all that much.

I ask myself, what does my life mean in the long term?  What do I leave in this world when I am gone? Does my life affect , encourage and contribute to those around me? What am I living for?

Atomic Bomb Museum

Some years ago, my oldest brother, Kent, visited Hiroshima and we went to see the Atomic Bomb Museum. It is a shocking exhibit for those who have never been there. I can remember that we stopped in front of one exhibit. It was a safe in which someone had stored their money and valuables. All the coins had melted into a solid mass from the great heat of the atomic explosion. The wealth this person had acquired was of no value at all in the end.

Just the evening before, Kent and I had been reading a passage in II Peter where Paul speaks about final destruction of the earth. After describing it, he says,

“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?”

Last week’s newspaper reported that yet another fault-line has been detected in the Tokyo-Chiba area. They have predicted a 70% chance of a major earthquake of 8 to 9 magnitude will occur within the next 3 or 4 years. The height of the tsunami in the Tokyo area would be twice that of last year’s. (or 20 meters high)

The greatest commandment, according to Christ, is to love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself. Maybe they are all in the same thing.

Given that tomorrow we may lose all we have, may lose the ones we love  and may even lose our own life, I am thinking I ought to live in a way I can actively love and serve God and others.

Today I want to start thinking how I can put that into practice more in my life. Suggestions anyone?


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Patricia Bulls
    Apr 06, 2012 @ 10:24:00

    You already are practicing in your life… staying and appreciating the precious present which as you share so eloquently is all we have. Your practice of sharing this perspective from living through such devastation is a gift. Precious present, share gift, moment to moment. You got it…


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