Essays on Faith: 'Life is but a vapor that appears for a little time'

I’m always amazed when suddenly, the day turns as dark as night, rain comes down in torrents, lightening flashes and thunder booms, making me feel helpless and then, within a few minutes, it stops as abruptly as it started and the sun shines brighter than ever.

Somehow, I feel as though I’ve been chastised, or at least, warned. It reminds me of the way my mother used to warn me about my behavior and then kiss the top of my head to assure me that she still loved me.

A little while ago, it was like that here. When I got up it was so dark, I thought perhaps my clocks were wrong and it was the middle of the night. Maybe I should go back to sleep, I thought. But I could hear Mr. H. going about his usual routine and knew it was time to get up. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning, followed by booming thunder, seemed to come right through the skylight. My loud shriek scared Liza, my cat, and she scurried from the room.

“Okay,” I said to no one in particular, “a cup of coffee and a little TV will relax me and the storm will be over shortly” — but no such luck! The cable was off. Lovely! No TV. No internet. No phone calls. Just total quiet. What will I do with that?

“Think back, Peggy,” whispered the familiar voice inside, “when you were growing up, you’d never even heard of the internet or an iPhone. TV was available, but expensive, and not everyone owned one. And even if they did, it was on only a few hours a day, usually in the evening.”

“What did you do with all that time?”

The answer was easy: For one thing, we talked to each other. I think we’ve forgotten how nice conversation can be. Each family member contributed — sharing experiences and telling funny stories. We laughed and sometimes, we sang, especially at holiday time.

The memories we cherish now, were made then.

But it seems we’ve become a society of, “Maybe we can talk later, I’m watching my favorite TV show!” Or, “Can it wait? I’m Facebooking right now.” Or, “I don’t have time for a phone conversation; text me, okay?”

But time rushes by — and one day we realize we’ve lost a whole lot of relatives and friends with whom we rarely talked or spent time.

Mr. H. and I couldn’t have guessed when we eloped on that long ago sunny day in early September — a little more than children ourselves — that one day we’d be parents of five and grandparents of seven. We couldn’t imagine ever being old. After all, we had parents and grandparents, and aunts and uncles and cousins older than we were.

Old age was far away!

How could we have known when we said, “until death do us part,” that time would pass so quickly — like a dream — and one day those parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins would be gone and we’d be the senior generation — next in line to deal with our mortality?

Lately, I’m starting to think of life as a game of Russian roulette with everyone waiting to see whose number comes up next. Almost every day, I read the obituary of another friend or acquaintance. I can’t help but wonder when the hand of fate will tap me — or someone I love.

One shouldn’t dwell on such things, I’m told. Only God knows how long we’ll live. If we trust Him and surrender our life to Him, we can rest in calm assurance that He is in control.

Life is short, to be sure.

We glide effortlessly from infanthood to childhood, the teenage years, young adulthood, adulthood and middle-age. And then one day, we are surprised to find ourselves in the autumn of our years. It’s about now that we begin to question whether we have run a good race — enjoyed life to the fullest. It’s when we realize how little time we have left and we finally start to live in the moment, squeezing every drop of goodness from each one. It is also a time to set things straight. No regrets.

It’ll soon be winter.

James 4:14 says: “Life is but a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” We must try to enjoy each day, cherish every moment, be thankful for our blessings and appreciate the people in our lives. We should spend time with them. Talk to them. And share all the love we have with them.

Our love should radiate like the sun, warming everything it touches.

Life passes much too quickly.

Let us savor each golden day, every precious moment.

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro.

Essays on Faith may be submitted to gazette@wvgazettemail.com.

Find more Essays on Faith at www.wvgazettemail.com/life/religion.

Funerals for Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Abner, James - 1 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Black, Thomas - 11 a.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Bowcott, Doris - 1 p.m., Mt. Union Church, Pliny.

Dolin, Clayton - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Harper, Brandon - 1 p.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Hively, Thomas - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Kirk, William - 8 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

McDonald, Jeremy - 11 a.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Rollins, Melvin - 1 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Short, Elizabeth - 1:30 p.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Simpkins, Anthony - 1 p.m., McGhee-Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Stone Jr., Darrell - 2 p.m., Smith Cemetery, Leon.

Thorne, Thomas - 1 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Mount Hope.