My lasting memory of ‘Joe’ was as he stood before the food cupboard of an Evangelisation and Outreach Centre in a major city one Thursday afternoon. As well as basic provisions, he was choosing little treats that he would enjoy over the coming days. It was not to be. On Sunday morning I received a phone call to let me know that this frail gentleman who attended the centre several times a week had been found dead at home on Friday morning. The sense of shock that all who knew ‘Joe’ experienced was profound…frail, elderly people living and dying alone in the U.K in 2023 is a tragedy of our times.
At his crematorium memorial service on Monday of Holy Week the registrar quoted the poem, ‘The Dash’ by Linda Ellis.
This speaks of the time between one’s birth and one’s death…how do we spend these precious years, ‘For it matters not, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash, what matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash.’ In the silence, I reflected on how I spend my life and thought of how Jesus spent his dash….. a life to of total self-gift to others.
Like Jesus, Joe had suffered greatly but it did not thwart his desire to reach out in love to others.
Sadly, not unlike ‘Joe,’ Jesus had died alone. He had been abandoned by some of his closest friends, betrayed by a beloved disciple and left to hang in shame on a wooden cross. His offering was total self-gift so that each one of us could come to fullness of life in Him.
May we live our dash in gratitude to him and spend our lives in loving service of the most vulnerable in our world.