We enjoyed "The Bucket List." Two men on their death-bed decide to live well with the time they had left. Life had been the way it had always been for the both of them. One remembered a professor in his youth that had instructed the students to create a "bucket-list" made up of dreams and accomplishments they would seek throughout their lifetimes. Both had lost sight of dreams. One had a family, one did not. One couldn't remember true love after 45 years of marriage and after several kids had come and gone, the lights in their rooms...dormant. The other was wealthy beyond measure but had never known true happiness after four marriages and a daughter who wouldn't speak to him. He had done his best, so he thought, but something had gone terribly wrong. Now they were dying and so the family man began re-writing dreams he never thought he would see except to note a glimpse of them on paper. The other, curious about the scribbles, looked at the list and from that moment a dream was born. They made a list. After difficult moments with a wife barely remembered and a rich bachelor who had barely lived, off they went.
The list included things like "Laugh till you cry", "Go Skydiving", and "Gaze at something truly Beautiful", and "To kiss the most beautiful woman in the world." They didn't live...they found life. After scratching the list off one by one there were few left...but the one they had not written came true most of all--"To Live." They returned home, one to his wife and the other to his lonely home. Both had almost stopped dreaming, until they brought out the bucket...and the bucket was not yet full. One returned home to a loving wife and a grateful family. He kissed her...and placed "Kiss the most beautiful woman in the world" into the bucket. The other found the courage to find his long lost daughter and long last...she had her own daughter. He picked her up, held her in his arms and kissed her on the cheek...and put "Kiss the most beautiful woman in the world" into the bucket.
I wish the gift of wisdom had not come with so much grit in the same box. My bride traced the lines on my face last night, some of them worry lines, some of the laugh lines, and some of them made of terse, sad and gritty experience.
But I've got buckets and lists. I've travelled and loved. I've sang in raptured choirs and knew heaven. I've played and I've worked and I've won and I've lost. I know the echoes of family holidays and birthdays as if the walls that hold them are stashed away in my brain. I intend that when you come here you should feel like kings and queens and yet I've lived portions of my life with disdain. I love and experience my ministry, my work and my family and my friends. I love to mow the yard and I love to travel to exotic places.
Sometimes I miss college. I miss catechism. I miss donut runs and I miss the throngs of friends that would pile into Taco Johns. They're crossed off my list, and in the bucket. I miss late nights on the phone and I wish for the night I laid on my back in the snow near Ireton Iowa and watched the northern lights--that's in the bucket too. I wish I had not fallen into many temptations and I wish I had turned the T.V. off last week when my wife wanted to tell me about her day. Sometimes buckets are filled with things that shouldn't have made the list.
I love the freedom my wife and I experience, the capability we have to make quick decisions, to go anywhere at any time...they're in my bucket. We definitely live. To watch my wife's unbounded energy...that's on the list. But I would give it all away...rip up the entire list, to gain back the day before we lost our child, little Reyana Breen. We spent wonderful weeks dreaming about who she would be. There's a line on my face reserved for her.
So we have dreams. I have dreams. I take my list and my bucket with me everywhere because it seems I put a new one on the list every time I leave my house. I want to see the Eiffel Tower and visit Machu Pichu. I want to walk Via the Dolerosa and visit the Garden of Olives near Jerusalem. I want to listen to raging rivers and soft streams. I'm going to put the heart of Alaska in my bucket soon. I can't wait for that. I want to visit every major league baseball stadium. And on my list is "be content at home".
I'm going to publish poetry. Oscar Wilde said "At twilight, nature is not without loveliness, though perhaps its chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets." I'll write.
Many jealous dreams may or may not go into the bucket, who knows? I don't need a bucket to live. I don't need a bucket to insure that anyone who comes to my home feels as if they've known what it's like to feel appreciated, to know love, and experience rest.
My wife and I touch each other. I've got many buckets reserved for that alone. I hold her at night, sometimes all night. Sometimes I turn over and she holds me and sometimes we lay back to back...but we're still pressed together. A new bucket lies beside our bed to be filled in darkness and re-lived at morning light. On my list is to smell the flowers when I exit my front door. I'm going to look at the veins within a leaf and I'm going to catch a snowflake on my tongue. I'm going to marvel at rain and feel thunder. I'm going to splash warm water on my face and taste icicles. RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) was added to the list and we accomplished the 2007 RAGBRAI. We added a bullet point to that record before we placed it into the bucket that said, "We ride together or not at all." We're going to ride another 500 miles in one week on our bicycles. The bullet point has now been added to the "For All Time" list--Together, or not at all.
I'm going to walk around my block. I'm going to hold my nephews and nieces and pray for a child of my own. And I'm going to be thankful even when God says "no." I'm going to breathe cool air and I'm going to hold my breath simply to appreciate every breath after.
I'm going to start a business and enjoy a part-time job. I'm going to rent apartments or sell houses. I'm going to sell things just to get by and I'm going to live lavishly in wealth. I'd like to enjoy a new snow-blower, But I am thankful for the exercise gained from scooping snow. I'm going to ride motorcycles and enjoy good cigars. I'm going to rent movies only to get lost in a good book. I'm going to hold my wife's hand, fingers intertwined with mine. On my list is "never forget to kiss Monique goodnight."
I'm not going to be afraid to tell you about God. For I know in whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day. Come thou fount of every blessing! Tune my heart to sing Thy praise. Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
We've got buckets for dreams--but I have already lived. I've already kissed the most beautiful woman in the world. Some fein to love their wives on this particular day. I get to love her every day.
And on my last day, the last line traced upon my face, I hope you know what it is to appreciate. And when my eyes close you will check one last item off my bucket list for me--"My hand will be in hers, and her heart will be in mine."
And I'll wait for you in Heaven.
picture courtesy of our dog, who in her frolics had no idea she'd provided us a beautiful Valentine's gift...thanks Dutchie!