Sidey’s weekly theme is “A Life Well Lived.”
Should be an easy topic, right? Most of us know lots of people who extracted from their days the essence of living well. I have countless relatives, and dear friends who are still living their lives well, and at least that many more who have gone on past my ability to see or know, who lived their lives well for all the time I knew them. I don’t think that is extraordinary, but some may think so, in which case I believe the difference between us is their definition of living well.
Maybe my “life well-lived” group is so large because I have no adequate definition for it. Quite frankly, I don’t believe any of us really do. We might be able to point at it, but we can’t touch it with our finger. Life in itself is curious enough without adding adjectives to it. The life and death of Nelson Mandela is a magnificent mystery. People who have faced such extraordinary obstacles that separate them from everything that most take for granted, and manage to either surmount, dig beneath and beyond, or circumvent such barriers are worthy of enduring awe. Surely, Nelson Mandela is one worthy of such enduring and time-traveling awe. But there is something else about his life, and others of similar living skills, and I suppose that “otherness” is what accounts for such amazing world-changing living. Living that moves far beyond my own inept description of ordinary life (if such a thing exists) or defining overwhelming barriers to living, or not living, at all. I believe there is such a gift as being totally blind to the impossible.
It is probably an immense relief for my regular readers or even first-timers, that I am not going to take the time or space to try to define what I mean. I’ve already taken about 300 words just to get this far. A life well-lived could be ascribed, I suppose, to anyone who performs the purpose of their life, subjectively or objectively, “well.” I am certain that many feel that Osama Bin Laden’s was a life well-lived, insofar as he accomplished at least some of his self-defined purposes. I consider him the antithesis of such a life, but truth be told, I did not know the man at all. I knew him only by his actions, his “fruits,” and know little of those. Just as I know Nelson Mandela’s life by his “fruits.” But above all, I know whose fruit I would rather nurture and grow.
It is not my intention in any way to compare the lives of Osama Bin Laden and Nelson Mandela. I am quite sure comparisons can be made, but to what purpose? Both men were born in innocence, both had friends, both made mistakes as well as performed acts of kindness. But in my own final analysis, they will always be known by their fruits, as will we all.
In the Bible’s Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7: 13-20, Jesus says:
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.”
There is a composer/musician, Ken Medema, who wrote the song in the following video, “The Tree Song.” It is performed here by Joel Clifft. This is a song about a life well-lived. It is a song I think of, or sing, when contemplating the lives of many people I know or knew, a song of tribute to those who took the narrow gate, and those who by the choices they made in their lives, bore good fruit. It is a song I sing today about Nelson Mandela.
My dear and Gentle Readers, I wish you all the joy of a life well-lived, bearing good fruit with enough. . .