The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

A Moment to Reflect

By Miriam Rutzen

Special For The Quill

Turn to someone and give them an extra hug today. Our community has experienced a rough patch of mourning.

This past week I had the privilege of spending some time back home and the sentiment was echoed across the area: too many visitations, too many funerals, too many losses.

While death is inevitable, that does not lessen the pain of losing loved ones, yet it also provides a time of gathering those left behind to honor the lives of those we have lost. In spite of our sadness over the circumstances, life will go on, work will still need to be done, bills paid, and homework completed.

But I know I personally need to pause for a moment: these losses in our community recently, and the many that have come before and those that will come in the years ahead, cause great sadness because of the impact they had on the lives of those around them. I too hope for the cloud to pass and "normal" to return, but I want to offer an opportunity to process a bit first.

The obituaries of recent weeks hold a common theme: faith, family, and a life lived intentionally serving others. Some of us know one individual more than others, but my first intent is to reflect on this general lesson and truth that prefaces anything else: none of them and none of us are or ever will be perfect.

As we celebrate their lives and share cherished memories, the truth of imperfection and brokenness can easily be hidden under something akin to sainthood. Yet we would be remiss thinking this is what they would want. Humility comes through in these lives, humility that comes from a deep understanding that faith comes not as a social crutch, but from a deep need for a Savior and abundant grace. May we see their lives for what they were: men and women striving to live to honor their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, even through their struggles and failings. As we continue to reflect back, may we hold on to that foundational example.

Work Hard. Another theme rising from these lives well lived is the incredible work ethic exemplified by these individuals. Whether it was on the farm, in the home, at the office, in the classroom, or involvement in community service, a standard of excellence was contagious in their interaction with others and their ability to make the world around them a better place.

Working hard was not an effort to earn the next buck, although that did not hurt, it was a lifestyle. It would be hard to imagine them living otherwise.

May we remember this at times when buzz words like stress and workaholic can be twisted to encourage laziness or half-hearted effort. Work hard because you have been blessed with the ability to do so, while still understanding the importance of friends, family, and times of relaxing.

Laugh often. All of us who knew any of these community members can look back and instantly think of a time when they brought a smile to our face or to the face of someone we knew. Sparkling eyes, mischievous grins, loving and warm smiles-these too come across as a common theme. As I reflect back on my intersections with these men and women, it is their laughter and joy for life in the smallest of moments that brings back the fondest memories.

It is a burst of laughter in the kitchen, a story shared in the yard, an ordinary day of chores turned into an episode of hilarity, or a glance over to find the person surrounded by laughing family and friends at a ball game.

May we remember and cherish their smiles and laughter, and pass on those memories to the young ones around us.

Love well. Dear community, loving well means on the mountaintops and in the valleys. My brother would have turned 33 this past weekend and one of the things I miss the most about him are our fights. Loving well means being raw and authentic. Loving well means pushing through health battles with courage for what the next day may bring. Loving well means being present and engaged with your family even when it may feel like you cannot.

For those of us growing up in a technology deluged age, loving well means putting away our screens and listening to stories of those who have a treasure trove of adventures to share around the dinner table.

Loving well means not giving up on ourselves or those around us, but fighting to hold each other accountable in love and in kindness. Our community is one in which we can all be very proud, but we are not perfect.

The glory does not come in thinking that we are great, but it comes in understanding through the investment of time, love, and endurance, we can continue to get better.

Remember, give someone that hug. One given is one received.

Thankful is not a strong enough word for how I feel about Home. May we learn from the triumphs and the challenges of our loved ones and may we keep their legacy alive by working hard, laughing often, and loving well.