Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 20, 2013, column:
Small things keep life meaningful
By Mike Haynes
            A long time ago, someone asked me, “What’s more important to you: the big events in life or the small, everyday things?”
            I had trouble answering, because it seemed about 50-50, but I finally said the big events – such as my wedding or a vacation to another country. Later, I wished I had said the small things, because I realized most of our lives are made up of those, and most of our human relationships fully develop in the way we treat each other day in and day out.
            We can’t deny, though, that momentous occasions sometimes define where we stand in life – even if the event may be someone else’s in which we’re just participating.
Consider some chances I’ve had lately to pause and think – and compare them to recent situations of your own.
            Weddings and funerals certainly can stir up the brain cells – or is it the heart strings? Tonight, (July 20) niece Sheri Ann is getting married. Of course it’ll be a huge event for her and her fiancĂ©, Tyler, but it’s a milestone for my parents because she’s their first granddaughter to get married. It’ll be in the little Methodist church all my family grew up in, in the small town we still call home, with my cousin the preacher officiating.
            Weddings remind us that new generations are coming up – that when we’re gone, life and at least some traditions will continue.
            Hospitals also give us time to think. My mother, Joyce, has been in them twice lately with health scares that jolted me into reminiscing about good times growing up in the Texas Panhandle, about parents not missing one of their kids’ sporting events, about a mother and her bridge club friends, about a dad playing golf with his kids.
            Then, a week ago, Mom’s birthday brought much of the family to that small town for cake and hamburgers. In a family that doesn’t say the “L word” much, I still saw love in my 58-year-old brother explaining to his 83-year-old mother that he thought she’d like the color of the outfit he and his wife were giving her.
            Too often, we have to remember someone when we’d rather be talking to him or her. That was the case this month when disease took a young man from his wife and two boys. Even for me, not a close friend but an acquaintance, the funeral had special meaning. How can you not lament the loss of someone who was talented, vibrant and whose death brought hundreds together to honor him? And ending it with a string band playing “I’ll Fly Away”? Hard to beat.
            School reunions certainly stimulate the memory, and the one in my hometown this summer was no exception. For many in the Panhandle, such events are community-wide celebrations. Mine included quizzing an uncle about his upcoming surgery and finding out that a schoolmate who played pro football roomed with a Heisman Trophy winner.
            Others’ occasions can bring our own lives into focus, from the Christian retreat that 16-year-old niece Maria attended in June to friend Iris’s 90th birthday coming up next week. I’ve been where Maria is, and I hope to reach the age Iris is approaching. Their milestones touch me, too.
            Big events can be important, as can daily routines. Maybe the key to both is who you do them with. According to Jesus, the two most significant things we can do are to love God and to love people.

            If you’ll notice, all the occasions mentioned above involve people. And the more they involve God, the more meaningful they are.