Rituals that put things in perspective

Over the last many years I have developed an odd ritual that helps me to put things into perspective.  Sometimes we choose rituals; other times they emerge by accident, or by serendipity. My ritual involves a rumpled newspaper clipping featuring a story about a friend who passed away 6 years ago who was about my age.  I keep it near a set of books close to where I place my keys each day when I arrive at the office.

Sometimes as I get up to answer the door or walk by my desk in route to a meeting or event, my eyes will happen upon this faded section of newspaper.  I could be in a very good mood when this occurs or I could be amidst a moment of frustration, which inevitably occurs in any job.  Regardless, the split-second glance at this clipping and photo reminds me of how very precious and wonderful my time in the office truly is; of how precious my time in general is. It also helps to put my “first world” challenges into perspective. When I catch a glimpse of my dearly departed friend, I am reminded that what is important and what is not. While details matter, it is important not to always sweat – or fret about – the small stuff.

Last weekend we hosted the memorial service for Andy Marvel, a church member who died in early September at the age of 66.  Anyone who knew Andy couldn’t help but feel he departed this world way too early.  He still had at least one more chapter so it seemed.

The truth is that each of us has but 70 to 80 eighty years to write our stories, to take our journeys, to live our lives – with perhaps a little more time for the fortunate few and much less time for the overwhelming majority.  Our lives correspond to one small phrase, one tiny utterance of the much larger story that is the history of this world. And therefore, they are precious and not to be taken lightly – or too heavily as it were.


Tomorrow we gather for our annual outdoor, intergenerational Blessing of the Animals.  We invite you to bring your pet, or a stuffed animal, or a photo of a current beloved animal or one that has already passed on.  We will celebrate all of them and give thanks for the many ways our lives are made richer by other living beings in our midst.  See you in church.