In Thornton Wilder’s three-act play, Our Town, a young woman named Emily dies in childbirth. The Stage Manager, who narrates the play, gives Emily the choice of reliving one ordinary day of her life. Emily chooses her 12th birthday. Her expectations are shattered when she realizes that her family goes through the motions of life without really savouring what they have. Emily asks the Stage Manager: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”
The Stage Manager replies: “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”
Saints and poets. Maybe.
There is an expression in Latin, Carpe Diem, which means “Seize the day.” The word seize implies a deliberate action on our part. What does it mean to seize the day? For some it may mean grabbing hold of every part of it, being in control, moulding the day to their wishes.
There is also a gentler meaning. When I was a child, my grandmother taught me the verse: “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118: 24). From this perspective, we recognize that all the gifts in our life come from God. We cannot live in the past nor the future. We can only live in the present. Regardless of our circumstances, we can rejoice, because God is with us and has equipped us with many blessings. We can “realize life while [we] live it,” by by focusing on our family and friends while they talk to us, rather than being distracted by things around us. We can take the time to deeply appreciate God’s created world, in all its beauty. We can read God’s Word, the highest form of worship, as my pastor says, and focus on his plan for our lives. Life on this earth is finite, but we can grab every opportunity to take in all the joy and love, all the simple blessings, that each day brings. We can also practice forgiveness and not dwell on offences. Life is much too short for grudges.
This Thanksgiving, seize and enjoy your time with family and friends. Thank God for all his blessings and be encouraged by the knowledge that there are many more to come. “Realize life…every, every minute.”