Advent: Day 2
Psalm 1:4, Revised Standard Version
I’m sitting here at my computer keyboard in a state of shock. I have just received word that a teacher I worked with for three years has died of injuries he received in an automobile accident about a week ago. “Keenan” was 28 years old, and had barely begun his career. This was only his fourth year in the classroom.
Keenan was an only child, the son of an absent father, and a single mother who doted on him. He grew up in a rough inner-city neighborhood where he had to fight to survive. His twisted, misshapen knuckles bore witness to countless finger-breaking battles. Yet somehow he managed to look beyond the daily violence and set his sights on going to college to study history. Wanting to share his love of history with others, he decided that the best way to do that was to teach in middle school.
Two years ago, Keenan invited his long-time girlfriend and her young son to move in with him. “It’s the next step,” he confided to me. He hoped that their living together would lead to marriage someday, and he was willing to learn to be a parent to her son, although sometimes he became impatient and irritable with the rambunctious 5-year-old.
After three years in our school district, Keenan decided to move on. He thought he could have a greater impact on students in a setting where class sizes were smaller. He had settled into his new school, and apparently was doing well, when his life was cut short by the accident. On her Facebook page, his girlfriend said she lost the love of her life.
Today’s Advent Scripture invites us to meditate on the brevity of life. All of us, wicked or not, are “like chaff that the wind drives away.” We may be 28 or 58 or even 98 years old when we die, but we are but a breath, a blink of an eye, a little blip on the radar screen of eternity. We’re here today and gone tomorrow.
Life is short, so how should we live?
I think one of the Old Testament prophets points us in the right direction. In the venerable English of the King James Bible, the prophet Micah says, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (6:8).
Advent is God’s invitation to begin living a life that matters: just and merciful in our dealings with others, and humble toward God. Then, whether we live 98 or only 28 years, we will have helped to bring a little bit of heaven to Earth.