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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks For All That Really Matters

"Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb.
and as he comes, so he departs.
He takes nothing from his labor
that he can carry in his hand."

                    Ecclesiastes 5:15

My cousin Alvin Yoder, a much loved father, church planter and business man from Leburn, Kentucky, died early Monday morning after a difficult bout with cancer. While Alvin grew up in Kalona, Iowa, and I in the Stuarts Draft area, we were both born in Nowata County, Oklahoma, and lived near each other briefly when we were too young to remember.

We were related in numerous ways. Our fathers were cousins, our mothers sisters. And in 1972, my father married Alvin’s widowed mother after my mother died of cancer at 67, so we became step brothers as well. My older brother Eli and I plan to attend his funeral this Saturday.

Alvin being two years younger than I, his passing reminds me of how short our sojourn here can be, and of how grateful I need to be for every day I have here on earth. One good thing death does is help us focus on what really matters--like our faith in a loving God, our hope for a better world, and our love for our family and friends everywhere.

Brad, our singer-song writer son who lives in Pittsburgh (but is here this weekend!), recently wrote the following based on his reflections on Ecclesiastes:

how little that matters  -- http://bit.ly/WbcuF0

all the prizes we once sought,
possessions that we sold & bought
are lost or broken, tossed or boxed away,
with the status we enjoyed,
the tools and power we employed
all join the list of things that never stay..
   now it’s clear, how little that matters,
   how little that means at the end of the day,
   while we’re here, let’s throw on our tatters,
   we’ll shake off our cares & waltz on our way,
      how little that matters..

in my hometown on tall brick walls
stand faded signs from stores that closed,
still selling stuff that’s long since disappeared,
while fliers taped to street lamp poles
sing muffled songs of long past shows,
I knew that band, they haven’t played in years..
   now it’s clear, how little that matters,
   how little that means at the end of the day,
   so my dear, we’ll throw on our tatters,
   shake off our cares & waltz on our way..
      open as a baby’s cry,
      waving as they all fly by,
      the few we mark, how many we let slide..

I know a man who I’d call wise,
he dedicated his whole life
to mastering the instrument he plays,
but he believes, for all his skill,
a single broken note is still
enough to shake our sleeping hearts awake,
   all our fears, how little they matter,
   how slight they appear in the light of the day,
   while we’re here, let’s throw on our tatters,
   we’ll shake off our cares & waltz on our way,
   how little that matters…
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