Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 18, 2005
Say 'thank you' before time runs out
Light One Candle
Her notepaper had an attractive floral border and the hand that wrote the note was obviously shaking, but still had a beautiful writing style. She began her note with comments about her age, her loneliness since her husband of 53 years passed away and some reflections on how the world was changing far too fast for her.
She went on to say that she wasn't asking for anything but simply wanted to thank The Christophers for reaching out to her for so many years.
What really gave me pause though was how she phrased her thanks: "I know that God will invite me to rejoin my husband any day now. I don't want to leave this earth without writing to say thank you."
I have thought a lot about that note and the idea of saying "thanks," especially the idea of saying it before it's too late for us or the one we want to thank. I had a theology professor in college who, each semester, would create a timeline on the blackboard that dramatized a typical student's life expectancy measured against time since creation. Obviously, there was a lot of imagination in that timeline but the impact was powerful.
The professor used the timeline as a reference in lectures on charity, but he was saying much the same thing as my note writer: we don't spend a lot of time on this earth, so being charitable should be done before it's too late.
It's hard to think of our lives as being so short and to put our actions in the context of how long we have on earth, but I cannot count the number of people I have heard or read say, "I wished I'd said that while he/she was still alive."
My mother lapsed into a long coma and ultimately died after a test when she was 60 years old. She'd been in good health so no one expected it to happen, which meant there was a lot left unsaid. We expected her to live many more years, and so thanks didn't get expressed.
Maybe it's that experience that has given me a greater appreciation for the brevity of life. We are here on God's plan and we do not know what that plan is nor how long he gives us. However, we do know that he puts us here to make it a better world, and one of the ways we can do that is by expressing gratitude when the occasion occurs.
It is easy to let saying thanks slide until we get the time to write a note or see the person. The trouble is, we're all busy and there never does seem to be enough time. So maybe it's more about our making the time for something as important as showing our appreciation.
My wife and I once received a thank-you note for a wedding gift six months after the ceremony. At first we were shocked, but in a short time we came around to the adage, "It's never too late to say thank you." And I honestly don't believe it is.
Maybe a nice "spring cleaning" exercise would be to get in touch with some person or persons we've been meaning to thank for a long time, but just haven't gotten around to it. It will probably be a surprise, maybe even a shock, but I bet it will be a day brightener for them - and us.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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