I went home to Virginia two weeks ago to pause and remember the passing of my father Anthony Leslie Davis. We went to visit his grave, and there, we paused to reflect not only on his life and his passing, but also on our own mortality. We are all living days we were not promised. We are all expected to die—some day—and that someday could have been today. At least, this is what James, that very practical soul, tells us. He wrote,
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13).
I reflected on this as we toured the rest of the cemetery full of other people who had lived and died. I am sure that few, if any, thought. “Tomorrow I will die.” I don’t remember the last time that thought came into my mind—but it was in my mind this week.
This week I went to the funeral of a friend who died a week after I returned from Virginia. Other than being human, he was not terminal. He was playing tennis five days a week, sometimes for five hours at a time. He was in his early fifties, but healthier than most men in their thirties.
Yet, he was at home when he died of a heart attack.
My grandmother use to finish all future plans with the phrase, “If God spares my life.” “Next week I will come to visit, if God spares my life.” It was an admission that she did not know what tomorrow held—none of us do. I sat and pondered the life and sudden death of my friend, I felt even more mortal. I also felt even more charged to live TODAY in such a way that, should I fail to reach tomorrow, I will have no regrets.
My prayer, as I sat hoping my friend would wake and expose the joke (he did not) was that I would live with eternity in mind, that I would live as though each day were my last—because it just may be my last. So, with Robert Herrick I say;
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
Copyright©2010 Hudson Russell Davis
 “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time,” Robert Herrick