Live Your Dash

April 7, 2016

“Live Your Dash”

Recently, I read a story about a group of students who were taken to a local cemetery and shown a tombstone. They were told to focus on the dash placed between the date of birth and the date of death. Their teacher explained that “the dash” represented everything that happened to that person between the day they were born and the day they died.

The exercise was to remind the students to “live your dash” – make the most of everything in between your birthday and the day you depart this earth.

All of this was inspired by a poem attributed to an “Author Unknown” and later to “Linda Ellis.”

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning…to the end

He noted he first came to her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years. (1900 – 1970)

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on this earth…
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own:
The cars…the house…the cash,
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard….
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile….
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy’s being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Author Linda Ellis

All of this, got me to thinking about a lot of things. As I turn 65 this year, I sometimes think that I’m a lot closer now to the end than I am to the beginning.

When I was 40, I can remember thinking “well, I still have half my life ahead of me.” This was based largely on the fact that I felt I had really screwed up my life, but maybe I had enough time left to straighten it out again.

I’m told there is an old saying “We grow too soon old, and too late smart!” I’m not sure if it was the Germans or Norwegians that came up with that, but it’s most certainly true.

So, how have I lived my dash? That’s a scary thing to think about because when I do, I tend to focus on all of the things I’ve done wrong in my life as opposed to what I have done right. I think if I were to make a list, the “wrongs” would be much longer than the “rights.”

The amazing thing is, God is able to take all of it, the good and the bad, and use it to mold me into who I am today. Better still, He’s forgiven me. Every sin has been washed clean by the blood of Christ; as far as the east is from the west, He has removed my sin from me. I stand in awe of His grace.

So, how have I lived my dash? As a sinner; but as a redeemed sinner!

And, one more thing; the students were encouraged to focus on the dash – to make the most of their lives here on earth. There seems to be a finality in that; as if there was no hope beyond the grave. And that’s sad.

If my life is only about what I did with it while I was alive; if death was the end, where’s the hope?

I am blessed that my hope is in Christ, in his resurrection and victory over death and sin. And I am assured, that I have eternal life in Him – that’s a pretty long dash!