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Bon Voyage

 Greek Sunrise

I always enjoy gaining insights into other cultures, especially through their own languages. I came across one recently that really made me think, and you may find it interesting, too.

On Facebook I “like” a Greek musician, Areti Ketime. And being one of her likers, her posts show up on my newsfeed. I enjoy reading them to practice my Greek, even though they usually consist of announcements for concerts that I can’t go to. But this time it was different: she posted something that alluded to the recent passing of an (apparently) famous Greek musician. What caught my eye, though, was not the post, but the comments that followed it. People said the things people usually say when someone like that dies—expressing how much they loved his music, etc. But almost every commenter also included the phrase “Καλό ταξίδι!”, or some form of it, addressed to this deceased musician. That’s the Greek way of saying “Have a good trip!”, or “Bon voyage !” if you please, and in this context it intrigued me.

Greece is known as one of the most religious countries in Europe, and while I don’t know what the Greek Orthodox beliefs on the afterlife are, it was apparent that these well-wishers had full confidence that this man was on his way to a new destination. I like this point of view, and perhaps we should remember more often that those who have passed on are not dead forever, but only gone to another place; and if they were faithful in this life, we may see them again if we follow the same path.

The Last Mile of the Way

You never know when you’ll see someone for the last time. When Mr. Fred Russell squeezed my hand a month ago at Southern Oaks Assisted Living and said “Now, don’t forget to come back!”, I had no idea that it was the last time we would see each other in this life. Today as I sat among his friends and family at his funeral, I couldn’t help but think of things I wish I could have told him before he left: how much he meant to me, what a great example of Christian love he was, etc. I wish I had taken time to get to know him better—as it was, I only learned about his younger days when I read his obituary, and realized that he and I had a love of camping in common.

But as much as I will miss brother Fred, and as much as I wish I had done more while he was still here, I am not sad. As the preacher remarked at the funeral, “He was a Christian, and you can’t top that!” Even though he’s finished the last mile of the way, he was faithful in his life, and by the grace of God he will receive his reward, and I will see him again.

Even though we can be certain about our reception after death, life is still uncertain, and no one knows when it will end. I don’t mean to be morbid, but each interaction with a person may be your last. Knowing that, shouldn’t we be more encouraging, more loving, more focused on others? Encouragement is not something that should be put off. Opportunities come and go, and some may make an eternal difference. Also, I believe that every interaction either brings people closer to God or pulls them away, even if in the slightest degree. That’s something I want to try to keep in the forefront of my mind, so that I can try to do better to make sure my life does bring people closer to God.

We only have so much time allotted to us, but opportunities abound. Let’s take advantage of them before they slip away.