A dear friend of mine is a former police detective.
A couple of years ago, we were having breakfast and he shared a story that has stuck with me.
At one point in his career, he was responsible for reviewing all the police cases that involved someone dying. Not all were homicides. The case could also involve someone dying at the scene of an accident or dying at their home from a heart attack.
The death certificates were placed in a stack on his desk and each night he would pick up each certificate, review it and place it face-down in a new stack, careful to preserve the order in which they originally arrived.
“I’ll never forget it,” he said. “I was reviewing the death certificates, one-at-a-time, as I always do…the certificate of a homeless man: the certificate of someone who died in a car accident; the certificate of someone who committed suicide and then I came upon the certificate of an extremely wealthy man, well-known in Charlotte for his money. I reviewed his death certificate, like I had reviewed all the others, placed it face-down in the “processed stack” and continued.”
He smiled in the most tender-hearted way and said, “We all end up in the same place.”
I’ve been thinking about that story a lot lately. My life has changed in ways I simply couldn’t have imagined even just a year ago. The experiences I’ve had and continue to have, particularly in living life with the poor in my community, has opened my eyes and my life to something so deep, I’ve not yet found the words to explain it.
But what I do know is this. All I have right now is this moment. What I did and what I’ve done in the past do not define this moment right now nor do they define who I AM. I mean, come on now…we all end up in the same place…all I’ve got is this. Right here. You. Me. Now. This is it!
It’s a line of thinking that is foreign to the way I was raised. Eckhart Tolle says it better than I do.
“Your entire life only happens in this moment. The present moment is life itself. Yet, people live as if the opposite were true and treat the present moment as a stepping stone to the next moment-a means to an end.”