Year five reflection:
I listened to a talk from Francis Chan recently where he tells the story of his friend Stan who was speaking at a memorial service. As Stan was finishing, he reiterated his main point which was that you never know when God is going to take your life. And at the moment that it happens, there is nothing you can do about it. Are you ready? After Stan finished, he sat down, fell over, and died in the middle of a memorial. Wow! What a way to go, I thought!!
And listening to this talk made me think of our wedding. Mara had a very clear vision for the theme, and it centered around Matthew 25. That passage is about the parable of the ten virgins, where half the virgins were ready when the bridegroom comes to let them into the wedding banquet with their lamps full. The other half were not ready. The parable alludes to Jesus’ return and living our lives in such a way so that we don’t have to “make things right” when he returns but are ready.
Today marks the 5th anniversary of Mara’s death. In some ways, this seems like a very short time. In other ways, it seems like several lifetimes ago. What has been made clear to me since her death is that our lives are very short in the scheme of things.
And what do I mean? Well, over the last few years, as I’ve been driving the kids to school during the winter months, we drive with the sun in our faces for a particular stretch of road. During this time, the steam from my coffee is particularly visible. I’ll put the lid on the mug and the steam goes away in several seconds. I take it off and the steam reappears. I put it back on, and it quickly goes again.
It’s almost a game between us now. But it allows us to talk about the meaning of Psalm 39 which says that the span of our lives is like a vapor – here and then gone. And we talk about, if this is true, what it means to live our lives well.
Like a vapor – here and then gone. It certainly seems that way with Mara’s life. She was here, then gone way too fast. But one thing I will say about Mara, and I think that people who knew her will agree, is that she lived the short life that she had to the fullest. And she lived in such a way that she was ready to die.
She lived it to the fullest not with thrill-seeking or grand adventures, but by appreciating the gift of a beautiful sunrise. By being present with the person in front of her. By speaking a kind word to the person in the room invisible to others. And by knowing and loving God like few others.
After Mara died, I found her journal where she was writing a prayer to God. She said, “I really want to be with you Lord, but I cannot imagine leaving David and the boys.” Thankfully, she did not have to make that choice.
Mara wasn’t perfect by any stretch. But she poured her life into people. She poured her life and love into me and the boys. And she raised the seed funds before she died to create a supplement company to get the good molecule in broccoli, sulforaphane, out to people who need it. The company that now bares her name: Mara Labs.
Mara’s was a life well lived. She was always ready. And she could sweetly but firmly ask the hard questions, which endearingly earned her the nickname of the velvet cinder block. Now, five years later, through space and time and through the thin veil between this life and the next, I still hear her voice asking and challenging me: “Are you ready?”