I remember fondly those Friday evenings in the 1970s when my family would huddle around the color tv console in our family room to watch our favorite show, “The Partridge Family”. We knew it wasn’t a real family, we knew only Keith and his mom were actually singing and that everyone else was lip-syncing and pretending to play instruments – often quite badly, and we knew that the humor was corny and predictable. We knew all that… but we suspended belief, turned up the volume and tapped our toes to songs like: “I Think I love You”, “Doesn’t Somebody Want to be Wanted” and “I Can Feel Your Heartbeat”. And oh, that infectiously catchy theme song: “Hello world, hear the song that we’re singin’. C’mon get happy!”
I was saddened to learn of David Cassidy’s declining health and death recently. And I heard that his daughter, Katie, revealed last week that his very last words were: “So much wasted time.” How sad. How sad that David’s final words, and his final thought in this life… was that he had wasted much of it.
I wonder what my final thought will be when my time comes? Will it be full of regret too? Will I think about all the time I wasted?
In today’s gospel (Mark 13:33-37), which helps us move officially into the Advent season, Jesus tells a story about waiting. About making sure you are ready for the time when the master returns. You do not want to be caught sleeping at that time.
I used to think that the point of the story was about avoiding the crisis of being unprepared. That the tragedy was that the master would be angry and that you would be left behind. In the case of salvation, it would be our opportunity lost. But I’m seeing it differently now: it’s about being ready, prepared… not for the bad thing you will avoid but for all that you gain. This includes salvation downstream for sure. But it also includes a better life here and now. A life filled with relationship with Christ, of service, of faith and hope and love… and of total and complete surrender to the one who calls us back to him… is a better life. It is one filled with what we all want most of all: purpose and meaning.
I think about parents who learn over time that it is in the best interests of their children to let them make their own decisions, to loosen the reins and to allow them to experience life, to make mistakes even, and to be given the opportunity to fully decide for themselves. This is a letting go. It is done out of love, not the opposite. It’s hard, but as parents we need to give our children some space. This is free will. This is what God the Father does for us, his children.
So what will it be in the end? Will we be ready? Will we said we did our best? Will we feel as though we made the right decision?
Or… will we say that there was… so much wasted time?
We consider this in Advent. We should… choose wisely.