May 24, 2018

Pastoral Nuggets: The Wisdom of Athena

Athena“Happiness depends upon ourselves. Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story. The purpose of life is a life of purpose. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. Happiness is a direction not a destination. Thank you for existing. Be happy, be free, believe, forever young. You know my name, not my story. You have heard what I’ve done, but not what I’ve been through. Love is like glass, looks so lovely but it’s easy to shatter. Love is rare, life is strange, nothing lasts and people change. Every day is special, so make the most of it, you could get a life ending illness tomorrow so make the most of ever day …”

The words you’ve just read are an excerpt from a 3,000 word message that thirteen-year-old, Athena Orchard, wrote on the back of her bedroom mirror.

Athena, who died last year from cancer, secretly left the message for her parents and siblings. They discovered it after her death. It is hard for me to fathom the depth of maturity and understanding of life that this thirteen-year-old, who was literally battling cancer for her life, had.

She said, “Happiness depends upon ourselves …” She’s right! It is purported that President Lincoln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” That’s right too!

She said, “Maybe it’s not about the happy ending, maybe it’s about the story …” Wow!  Each of us is writing our own life story. Not all have happy endings.  Life is not fair. But here’s a novel thought: Maybe it’s not about the happy ending. Maybe it’s about our story! Wow!

She said, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose…” Each of us are born with a purpose. Our purpose in life is to find, and exploit to its fullest, our purpose!

She said, “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra …” The difference between a lifetime 300 hitter in baseball (Superstar) and a lifetime 200 hitter (Utility Infielder) is that out of every ten opportunities at bat, the lifetime 300 hitter reaches base successfully “one” more time than the lifetime 200 hitter!

She said, “Happiness is a direction not a destination …” This is true for our entire life. Our life is not about the destinations we reach or the things we collect along the way. It’s about being on the right journey!  I once had a church member who ran a motorcycle repair shop.  He looked like a Hell’s Angel. But he was a fine Christian man.

One Sunday morning he said, “Preacher, I went to a biker rally yesterday.  I saw a guy wearing a tee shirt that said, ‘He who dies with the most toys, wins!’  I went and had me one made.  On the front mine said, ‘He who dies with the most toys – still dies!’  But on the back it said, “He who knows the Son shall never die!’”  Hey, he got it!

She said, “You know my name, not my story …” Wow!  So true!  I used to work with a guy who would tell me, “Rev. You don’t know me. All you know is my name. And you’re just taking my word for that!” Maybe we should stop imposing our story upon others and take time to hear their story!

She then nails it by saying, “Love is rare, life is strange, nothing lasts, and people change.  Every day is special, so make the most of it, you could get a life ending illness tomorrow so make the most of ever day …”

Oh Lord God, help us to look beyond our situation and ourselves, and grant us the understanding on life that Athena Orchard, a thirteen-year-old cancer patient possessed.

 

Brother Aaron

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