Maybe it’s a sign of getting older, but it seems the end of the year seems to come around a lot faster than it used to.
The turning of the years is also a not-so-subtle reminder that I’ve seen an increasing number of these moments. When the calendar thins, I get reflective: looking backward for meaning and leaning forward in hope for better days. And maybe because I have a couple of friends who are my age and facing battles with serious disease, it’s hard not to wonder: how many more for them—or me?
Nowell Briscoe first heard an obituary as a seven-year-old boy in Monroe, Georgia while sitting in his dad’s lap. It was a remembrance of his grandfather, Pierce Briscoe.
That moment prompted a fascination with obituaries of all sorts of people. He’s collected them for over 50 years now –as many as 400 a month– clipped from the New York Times, USA Today and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has thirty notebooks full and boxes more around the house.
Nowell says some people call him the ‘archivist of death”. That sounds a little morbid until you hear him talk about what causes him to save the obituary of famous people and people he doesn’t even know. Like the guy with a walrus mustache who wore pince-nez glasses on a ribbon cord around his neck. Or Richard Todd, who played famed preacher Peter Marshall in the movie A Man Called Peter. Or Margaret Pepperdine, who was a scholar and teacher “who nurtured students.”
Why? He wants to “savor their life”. To make sure that even for a moment when he opens a notebook to read an obituary, the uniqueness of that life speaks again.
So, that’s a good suggestion for my turning-of-the-year reflections. In the new year, how will I savor the singular beauty of the lives that surround me everyday? And even more, how can I show the people in my world that their ordinary life is “savorable”—even tasty, beautiful and saturated with the Lord’s grace?
On the other hand, how can I savor my own life and enjoy the sweetness of the Lord’s daily mercies in and around me? It’s so easy for days to fly in a blur of actions, checklists and responsibilities. But the Lord “makes all things beautiful in their time” (Eccl. 3:11) –including my life and yours. Jesus, by His gospel, is “making all things new.” ( 2 Cor. 5;17) I can “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps.34:8) in the ordinary of my everydays.
Life can be savored while we yet live. No matter how many calendar pages turn.