The readings for today are ominous and foreboding to say the least. It is the time in the liturgical cycle when such are the nature of the readings. For women and men of a certain age, we think about our lives, our faith, and our bucket lists. I remember about 4 or 5 years ago I was watching Coach Lou Holtz talk about his bucket list because he was so excited having recently accomplished #2 on his list – taking a ride on a nuclear submarine. Check – been there, done that.
Lots of our bucket list are lists of want we want to do, see or enjoy. The words of the first reading: “Then I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire. On the sea of glass were standing those who had won the victory over the beast.” There’s a bucket list item – to be the victor in, through and with Christ. It’s not a do, see, or enjoy item. It is an expression of what we are called to become.
My friend Ed Dils had such a bucket list.
In Christmas 1944, Ed was with the US Army on the front line of the Battle of the Bulge. The entire strength of the German army was amassed against a thin and thinning US resistance. Without the aid of the US Army Air Corp because of the weather, the onslaught of German tanks and artillery were frightful. Surely the end was near. Like the soldiers of every war, this moment brought Ed Dils to the depth of his being. There on the battlefield of the Belgian forestlands, Ed wrote his bucket list.
- To be more tolerant, but at the same time more firm in my convictions of right and wrong.
- To do all in my power to hold fast my belief in the God-given goodness of human nature.
- To keep aglow my faith in the future, the hope for a brighter tomorrow … even when all may seem hopeless
- To be ever mindful of my many blessings – helping others to see theirs.
- To be neighbor and to love my neighbor no matter how difficult at times it may be.
- To be ever grateful for my family and my wife.
- To accept cheerfully and willingly the hard things that come, but not to assume a passive attitude and maintain my drive to bring about the good and worthwhile.
- To realize faults and human frailty and to try to respond with helpful compassion
- To be proud of my accomplishments, yet humble in my thoughts and beliefs.
- To keep myself physically, morally, and spiritually worthy
- To integrate into my being – “All things happen for good to those who love GOD.”
Ed carried that list in his pocket every day of his life for the next 65 years until his death in 2010. He fulfilled his bucket list before the end of his life. He became a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He quietly went about his life, spreading hope, love, compassion, and joy. If you needed help in life, everyone knew you could go to see Ed. And everyone went to Ed.
He was humble, tolerant, hopeful, mindful, grateful, aglow with faith, and held that what he was before God, he was that and no more. By the grace of God, he became a saint in his own time. I know he stands On the sea of glass [with] those who had won the victory.
So.. what is on your bucket list?