Life can be described in so many ways: fulfilling, hard, long, fun, meaningless, meaningful, exhausting, exhilarating. Yet there is one word that seems to most accurately describe life in all forms—fragile.
Amid the flurry of our days, it is so easy to fill our minds with the meager and mundane. "What am I going to wear today? Which bus would have got me there faster? What will we make for dinner?" However, by consuming our life with these insignificant questions, we shape our perspective to view life itself as insignificant.
This manifests itself in a multitude of mindsets, from becoming immune to the horrific reality of slaughters in Ukraine, to convincing yourself that you would give up ANYTHING to achieve the esteemed "thigh-gap" as many teen girls profess.
All these mentalities produce a distinctive lack of wonder at how astonishing life itself is. We grieve when a baby is born with an abnormality, but take for granted that a "normal" baby should result from what is surely the most phenomenal process that the world knows.
The complexity of the human body forming over 9 months with a rhythmically beating heart, eyes that see millions of colours, and fingerprints that distinguish us from any human that ever existed—this is surely a sight to behold. And yet we obsess over our score in a video game, the water mark on our coffee table, and what outfit Justin Bieber wore last week.
These kinds of unimportant thoughts were stripped from my mind last week when I learned that the younger brother of a friend, both of whom I used to spend a lot of time with, had taken his own life. I can still vividly picture his smile, his mannerisms, his cheeky remarks—and yet in one moment his fleeting life was extinguished. Fragile is therefore the only word I can use to truly sum up life.
The peripheral details slipped away and I unearthed joy in simple things that normally would've been taken for granted. The signs of life were suddenly the most delightful sight I could imagine. The pores on a face, so pink and freckled. The pulse throbbing lightly through fingers as hands were held tight. The chest softly heaving up and down as lungs were filled and emptied. Once you sincerely realise that tomorrow these things are promised to no man, you bask in the fragility of life.
When we get there, to that place where we cherish life in its true essence, the unpleasant no longer usurps our attention. We can forget about wasting time and energy holding a grudge. We no longer consider ourselves to be the centre of the universe—and we can behold the glory of a beautifully delicate life that has been gifted to us; gifted by a real God who gives us not only our fragile little bodies now, but everlasting life through his Son.
So let us not fill our minds with the best dressed list at the Oscars, or with the All Black's latest game highlights. Let us instead concentrate on the miracle of life expressed in fragile ways.
Watch the little bird on the power pole, listen to the rain soaking into your neighbour's plants, and hold the tiny baby's toes—knowing one day these fragile lives will be as a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James chapter 4, verse 14).
First published March 10, 2014
Harriet Knox lives in windy Wellington, New Zealand. She loves animals and cannot function well without a gym membership. She became a Christian at university and attends Gracenet Community Church.
Harriet Campbell previous articles may be viewed www.pressserviceinternational.org/harriet-knox.html