In her book, The Writing Life, Annie Dillard writes,
“How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.”
I think we often think of our lives as if they are this conglomeration of the big moments – the highlight reel, so to speak. Yet, the truth of the matter is that the fabric of our life is woven by the thread of the everyday. How we spend our days – our ordinary, nothing special days – is of course, how we spend our lives.
I shared those words as part of my sermon this past Sunday, the first sermon in a series on Sabbath Keeping that will lead our congregation into a new worship experience on the second weekends of each month this summer (more to come on this soon).
The reality of my week that led up to that preaching moment led me to be so aware that the week ahead included May 5th. It’s another ordinary day for some. It’s Cinco de Mayo for others – a good excuse for some chips and queso and a margarita. But for us – those of us at Heritage Presbyterian and so many others connected to one of our families – May 5th will not be an ordinary day. For May 5th is Harper’s Day.
I will never forget walking into that labor and delivery room nearly two years ago – May 5th, 2015 – to see Geoff, Whitney and baby Harper, not long after she had made her grand entrance into the world. I joked with them that she was their Cinco de Mayo baby, a girl destined to always love a party. Even in her 14 short months of life, I think I can say that my prediction was true. She was a girl who loved life and the people who filled it. She has become known for her Harper’s hugs – her full bodied, love you with everything she’s got hugs that left you knowing that she meant it.
Harper would be turning two this Friday, if her life had not been cut short in a tragic accident at her day care center on July 27th of last year. (Click here to learn about the Rodden family’s work around child safety and how you can be a part of it.)
As I thought about what it means to keep the Sabbath – to set time apart for the purpose of connecting to God, to our loved ones, to our inner selves – I realized that it is a practice that reminds us to give thanks for each day of life we have been given. Sabbath keeping is putting in place a time where we intentionally change our pace. We shift our focus. We slow down. We smell the roses, so to speak. We pay attention to the detail of a day and give thanks for its gifts. We practice gratitude. We practice presence. We practice relationship. And through it all life gets deeper, richer, more meaningful.
As our congregation enters into a period of experiencing and experimenting with sabbath keeping, I invited them to set some time apart on Harper’s Day this week to honor her and her memory. Harper did not get enough ordinary days. Losing her too soon, has taught so many of us the gift that each day holds and made us consider more carefully how we spend them.
Would you consider honoring Harper by being intentional about how you spend Harper’s Day this Friday? Here are some ideas to get you started thinking about how you might:
- Hug someone you love like you really mean it.
- Commit to making your car a distraction free zone – putting your cell phone down – allowing yourself to just breathe deep and be present to the moment as you drive.
- Set time aside on Friday to pray for the Roddens, asking God to help them move through what has to feel like another impossible day.
- Make sure someone important in your life knows how grateful you are to have them in it.
- Sit and write the Roddens or someone else you love who is hurting right now a note of encouragement – taking the time to connect with them and letting them know you care and they matter to you.
- Commission a Harper Bear, taking the time to sit and pray over the bear before you do, praying that God would be with the child who would receive it and that this Harper Hug would be a comfort in the midst of their difficult time.
- Thank God for the gift of another day of life and then ask God to help you spend that day intentionally and wisely.
In her 449 days of life Harper brought so much love and joy into the world. May we honor her memory by striving to do the same. May how we spend Harper’s Day help us to better spend each of our days.
“For how we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives.”