Archive for July 21st, 2018

2 Samuel 23: Last Words

2 Samuel 23Last Words

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A favorite written on June 18 and posted today . . .

We have no way of knowing the impact of our words on others.  We might guess.  We may even have the good fortune of receiving thanks from someone for words we may have offered during a crisis.  Or we may have the misfortune of discovering that our words were unkind or even damaging.  In all of these circumstances, we do well to remember that words may hurt or heal.  Words represent ideas and actions.  Words are sometimes our only vehicle for communication.  What then might we want to offer as last words to those with whom we struggle?  What do we offer to those we love?

I remember the last conversations I had with each of my parents.  They were completely typical.  Words of love and comfort going back and forth over the phone wires between Mother and me.  Each of us giving.  Each of us receiving.  Words of encouragement and life philosophy with Dad, even though he floated in and out of consciousness.  Each of us giving.  Each of us receiving.  There was no need to iron out wrinkles or un-ruffle feathers.  My parents and I were always open with one another.  Hidden agendas and anxieties were not allowed to fog our relationship.  The gift of honesty and truth is a settled heart.

I also remember my last conversation with my oldest brother and sister, both now deceased.  My brother knew his end was near as he died a protracted and painful death from cancer.  He and I joked and laughed as much as his condition would allow.  We both knew that each exchange held the potential for being the last yet we did not let this clutter our thinking.  We both acted on the belief that death is a mere transition and not an end.  The twelve-year difference in our ages was bridged by our love of family and commonly held values.

My sister died a sudden death and so our last words were ordinary.  We spoke about when we would see one another again and what we would be doing; yet there was a distance in her eyes.  Perhaps she already knew that her exodus was near.  Perhaps she held something too close to yet share.  I do not know but I also do not worry.  All will be revealed in God’s time.  I followed her across the lawn in the gathering dark as we walked to her car.  “Don’t walk all this way with me,” she smiled, “Go back to the campfire.  We all had a great time tonight.  Thanks for having the party.  See you soon”.  They were pleasant last words, normal and content, holding nothing deceitful, nothing dishonest.  We had celebrated the birthdays of her two oldest children.  She was satisfied.

We were all taught to live by a double axiom.  It was a happy combination of Dad’s “Hold nothing back” philosophy tempered by Mother’s “It will keep” viewpoint that unprepared thoughts were best held until processed and delivered at a better time.  It seemed like walking a tightrope to us five extroverted children as we grew.  Now I know that it reflected the working relationship my parents had forged through sixty years of living together.  Hide nothing – but say what you have to say with kindness.  We never know what words may be our last.

Being king and a man raised up, David knows that his last words will be recorded.   We do not have that luxury or – as some will think – that burden.  But when we think on this we realize that we utter last words constantly.  Friendships fade while others blossom.  Colleagues retire or go to other work with honest promises made and meant to be kept; new workmates join us.  Circumstances constantly change.  Someone is always moving on.  Yet our words remain forever, reverberating in the minds of others.   They capture memories accurately or wrongly.  They convey meaning poorly or well.  They accompany our actions and as such they are our legacy.

As we move through the last days of spring and step into summer, let us take a moment in time to pause and consider the weight of our words and what they might say to us and others about what we hold dear . . . and what message we want to leave behind for an eternity.

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 30, 2011.

Image from: http://www.thecancerhelpblog.com/tag/poems/ 

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