Each of has just so much time left. That reality has made it popular for some of us to talk about the special things we hope to do or places we hope to visit before our time is up. We all know someone who put off doing those special things for too long, and then, unexpectedly was stricken by something that put an end to travels and adventures.
I was pushed along that direction a couple years ago when the oncologist said, “Well, if untreated, you will be dead in two years. And if you receive proper treatment, you have a 50 percent chance of being cured.” I did not like that math. Fortunately, it seems I am among the 50% on the better side. But, as Samuel Johnson said, when a man faces the prospect of death, “it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”
I came to realize that there are quite a few wonderful people in my life with whom I want to spend part of my precious and limited time. Some are people in our family story, cousins, 2nd cousins, or the like. (For me there are no uncles or aunts left.) Some are young people growing into their adulthood. A few years ago I took what I called a “heritage tour.” It included visiting some of the peculiar places where I had lived or worked. I also arranged to visit some cousins. In one case I met with two cousins on my mothers’ side whom I had not seen in 60 years. One drove up from Iowa to Austin, Minnesota, to meet with us at her sister’s home. Our visit was sweet with remembrances. And both being older than myself, our parting was touched with that precious unspoken knowledge that it would probably be our last time seeing each other.
There are quite a few others on my list, among them a 94-year-old WWII vet we visited last fall, and hope to visit again this spring. He’s busily writing or editing books about people in his hometown. His eyes gleam with the excitement of living. Another is an old friend I see almost every month who suffers with advanced Parkinson’s. Our visits continue to be enriched with personal sharing and affection.
Some people on my bucket list are within a hundred miles or so. Those are the ones I can fit in fairly easily if I just make a point to put it on my calendar. Some live in other states, and that takes more planning, sometimes months in advance. But I always find it enriching to see someone who has made a difference in my life. It’s not just nostalgic storytelling about times past. We always discover more about our present and our hopes for the future.
By now, you, my reader, will understand that my bucket list is really made up of people with whom I want to have at least one more visit. One of the ways I come up with such a list is to sit quietly and simply ask God to bring to mind people that I am thankful to have known, or thankful for their impact on my life. But sometimes it is the nudge that comes to mind perhaps over breakfast, when one of us says, “You know, I wish we could go visit ______ sometime.”
There are precious people in all our lives. People from the past or present. We can spend some time enjoying our relationship, sharing our life’s journey, things that are much more important than whatever is on TV next weekend. For me, those enriching relationships are so much more a pleasure than seeing a mountain in Switzerland, a bazaar in Cairo, or even the Grand Canyon. Certainly there are lots of places I would love to see and enjoy, in Europe, Asia, Alaska, and on and on. I don’t think it’s wrong to enjoy those things. But I do know that for me, reconnecting and blessing those people with whom I have a special connection or affection, those are really the important things on my bucket list. Perhaps you are among them.
I long to see you so I may share with you some spiritual gift . . . that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. Romans 1:11–12