July 10, 2020

Reflection / John Shaughnessy

What is ‘the best day’ of your life?

John ShaughnessyWhen I think of my family, I often smile while recalling this quote, “Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family.”

When I think of my brother and my sisters, I find a certain amount of truth in this insight from writer Clara Ortega, “To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.”

When I think of our three children, I rejoice knowing their bonds run deeper than blood; they are blessed by a closeness that overcomes the distances of their lives.

These thoughts remind me of the blessings that our siblings often add to our lives, offering us that unique connection of family and friendship. Still, I was astonished and touched when someone shared a part of a conversation between two sisters, sisters who were both in their 80s and both of deep faith.

The younger woman had come to the hospital where her older sister was in the last days of her life. The older woman looked at her sister and said, “I’ll be dying soon.” The younger sister responded, “It will be the best day of your life. That’s when you will see God.” Her words were greeted with a smile from her older sister, as both women firmly embraced the foundation that has guided their lives—the gift of eternal life with God.

Admittedly, most of us don’t like to think about the day of our death. And it’s not even remotely likely to be a popular answer when people are asked, “What do you see as the best day of your life?” (What would you say?) Still, as followers of Christ, being reunited with God is the defining destiny we are born to live.

May we always appreciate the blessings God has given us in this life, including our family. And may we always live with the belief that the best day of our life is still to come.

(John Shaughnessy is the assistant editor of The Criterion. This reflection is adapted from his latest book, Then Something Wondrous Happened: Unlikely encounters and unexpected graces in search of a friendship with God.)

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